State schools

Despite tuition freezes and strong local economies, Pennsylvania public schools are seeing enrollment drag

PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — From Shippensburg to Millersville University and a dozen campuses in between, enrollment numbers at public universities in Pennsylvania are falling. Officials say it’s happening in many states right now — and unsurprisingly, they’re blaming COVID.

“It’s because of the pandemic. A lot of students who were thinking about college at the time decided not to pursue or pursue other things or maybe take a break,” said Janet Kacskos, director of communications at the University. of Millersville.

With fewer students graduating from high school, it also means less enrollment.

In a statement, Pennsylvania State’s higher education system says it continues to pursue an aggressive enrollment and recruitment strategy and that its efforts are aimed at righting the ship, including increasing enrollment, especially among underserved student groups.

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Something Millersville students see firsthand.

“We have reduced tuition fees for several consecutive years now. We’ve also recently reduced our halls of residence costs as other universities become more expensive,” said Madison Whitcomb, head of students at Millersville University.

It doesn’t stop there. With production companies like Rock Lititz pumping dollars into the local economy, Millersville University sees this as an opportunity.

“We’re making sure students get jobs when they graduate, so we have a bunch of new entertainment programs because the entertainment industry is booming, especially in Lancaster County,” said added Kacskos.

Officials tell us they are trying everything they can to attract more students, including waiving application fees and SAT/ACT requirements, all in hopes of attracting more young people to the Higher Education.