Enabling Access to Education

We will place pursuing and completing a Penn State education within reasonable reach for all potential students and their families. Many factors contribute to the ability to earn a Penn State degree and we must address them all if we are to increase access, especially for populations with historical barriers to entry. The importance of a college degree continues to grow, with numerous financial benefits and non-monetary advantages realized over one’s lifetime.

Student debt and the cost of attendance have increased at troubling rates for a variety of reasons, including the substantial decline of funding for public universities in nearly every U.S. state. While gains have been realized in the number of individuals afforded the opportunity to pursue a higher education, gaps among individuals from varying socioeconomic, ethnic, and other demographic factors persist. Generating philanthropic support for scholarships remains a core institutional priority. Understanding and addressing trends in the costs of higher education and effecting sustainable budget management processes will be critical, as will be developing responsive and adaptive programs to ease students’ transition to Penn State.

We must continue striving for efficiencies in our operations in ways that support the quality of a Penn State education. Given the large number of students who need financial aid and the socioeconomic challenges in communities throughout the Commonwealth, Penn State’s ability to educate students for productive careers is crucial. Penn State’s unique structure—one University, with campuses geographically distributed and a best-in-class World Campus—must be configured optimally to help enable access for potential students, both flexibly and at reasonable cost.