Op/Ed: Legislators must end funding delay for community colleges

By Marta Yera Cronin, Ed.D., President, Delaware County Community College

Marta Yera Cronin

Nearly six months into the fiscal year, Delaware County Community College and Pennsylvania’s 14 other community colleges have yet to receive operating funds authorized in July as part of the state’s FY 2023-24 budget. Community colleges are the only public higher education institutions in Pennsylvania still awaiting state payments.

Although the state budget included a two percent increase in operating funding, the General Assembly has yet to pass legislation to release the funds. As a result, the community colleges are scrambling to prevent students and employees from being negatively impacted by the funding delay.

Delaware County Community College will soon have to withdraw from cash reserves, cut back on student support services, and curtail important planned expansions of skilled trades and workforce training programs that provide much-needed, skilled workers for business and industry in high priority occupations such as nursing, electrical, carpentry, welding and manufacturing.

Pennsylvania’s community colleges are the largest provider of public postsecondary education and workforce training in the Commonwealth. Online and at more than 80 locations and sites across the state, Pennsylvania community colleges educate more than 230,000 students across all 67 counties. Delaware County Community College serves more than 16,000 credit and non-credit students annually, primarily in Delaware and Chester Counties. More than 17,600 hardworking individuals employed by Pennsylvania’s community colleges make this essential postsecondary education and workforce training possible.

Most Pennsylvania community college programs align with high priority occupations in fields such as healthcare, manufacturing, public safety and cybersecurity. In fact, the colleges award 3 out of every 4 associate degrees in nursing in the state. The community colleges also partner with more than 2,000 Pennsylvania employers to address workforce needs and provide contracted training to more than 87,000 workers annually. Across the state, nearly half of community college students are from minority or other underrepresented populations, and the colleges serve more first-generation students and low-income students than any other sector of higher education.

It is critical the General Assembly pass legislation authorizing release of state funds to Delaware County Community College and the other state-funded community colleges. Our students, employer partners and employees are counting on the state to act to end this unnecessary funding delay.

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.