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Cost of Higher Education

Pennsylvania enrolls more students in higher education than all but three states in the country. Higher education options abound, ranging from community colleges to public and state related universities to a broad array of independent institutions. Pennsylvania can also boast of having one of the largest need-based grant aid programs in the country. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) annually distributes $452 million in grant aid to Pennsylvania college students across the Commonwealth.

Despite all of these merits, the cost of attending college in Pennsylvania is a serious and growing concern. This issue has been exacerbated by recent reports of a student loan crisis that threatens to constrict access to affordable loans and further reduce postsecondary education options.

In September of 2008, the Pennsylvania Board of Education requested that the Deputy Secretary for Postsecondary and Higher Education in the Department of Education conduct research to document whether, and to what extent, the cost of postsecondary education in the state of Pennsylvania constitutes a significant barrier to college access, retention, and graduation. This report [linked below] is a partial response to that request. It contains data gathered from a variety of sources, including the College Board, PHEAA, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Peterson’s Financial Aid Survey, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the annual National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) Survey.

This report can be found here Cost of Higher Education (PDF)


For additional information, please contact:

David Tandberg, Ph.D. | Special Assistant
Pennsylvania Department of Education
333 Market Street, 12th Floor | Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Phone: 717.783.6793 | Fax: 717.772.3622
dtandberg@pa.gov | www.education.state.pa.us