For years, many Pennsylvania colleges have been sounding the alarm about their future.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, commonly known as Pasche, recently consolidated its six campuses into two after more than a decade of enrollment and financial pressures. Pennsylvania State University had a deficit of more than $150 million last academic year. And Muhlenberg College saw its credits shrink last year, with analysts citing concerns about “highly competitive student market conditions and weak regional demographics” suppressing the institution’s revenue.
While some of the factors — such as declining enrollment, anemic state investment and a shrinking pipeline of high school graduates — are common elsewhere affecting institutions in the Keystone State, there’s also a distinct Pennsylvania force at play: The state has more colleges than its traditional-age student population. In terms of
A Chronicle An analysis of Pennsylvania’s top-level landscape shows that in 2020, 149 four-year public, four-year private and two-year institutions served undergraduate students, representing 7,570 18- to 24-year-old Pennsylvanians for each college.
By comparison, the two states that share Pennsylvania’s borders have 18- to 24-year-olds per college, roughly translating to a crowded landscape. (The more people there are in each college, the less crowded the landscape is with institutions).
Ohio had 8,882 18- to 24-year-olds in 2020 for each of the state’s 120 colleges. New York had 7,655 traditional college-age people for each of its 228 colleges. In the national average for similar colleges Chronicle Analysis is 10,444 per campus.
“We’re in a state with a large private sector, so competition for students is tough, and the number of Pennsylvanians is shrinking,” said Johnny Feeney, former director of the university’s Institute for Higher Education Research. Pennsylvania.
More than 60 percent of institutions in ChronicleAnalytics are four-year, private, not-for-profit colleges. More than 72 percent of this group receives at least half of their first-year tuition from the state. About three institutions in 10, in Chronicles sample, are four-year public colleges. The rest are community colleges. (For-profit, two-year private, and graduate-student-only colleges were excluded from the analysis).
Two-thirds of Pennsylvania counties have at least one college. The top three counties in the number of colleges are among the state’s most populous. Philadelphia County has 16 institutions; 12 in Montgomery County near Philadelphia; And Allegheny County, dominated by Pittsburgh, has 11 members.
See below for more information on Pennsylvania’s crowded college landscape:
Lee Gardner contributed to this report.