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LHU is the right choice for the region’s students

Last month, the Pennsylvania’s State System (PASSHE) Board of Governors announced a tuition freeze, the first in more than 20 years.

I’m heartened by the board’s action and their demonstrated commitment to the success of Pennsylvania’s students that depend on us to deliver a quality, accessible and affordable education.

As a result of the board’s bold decision, basic tuition for in-state undergraduate students will remain flat at $7,716 for the 2019-20 academic year.

In addition, Lock Haven University students will see no new increases in the cost of fees or room and board.

This is an important step in ensuring Pennsylvania’s students have an affordable option to pursue their education and compete in our 21st Century economy.

At a time when the cost of earning a degree is climbing, many prospective students and their families find themselves asking if a college education is worth the investment.

I want to assure them it is.

Students who graduate from a state system university earn a median salary of $45,000 just two years after graduating.

This is the highest level for recent graduates in over a decade and is $2,000 greater than the national average. Nationally, the median income for high school graduates is $25,000 .

Higher education is not only a good investment for Pennsylvania families, it’s a good investment for the Commonwealth. 88 percent of state system students are Pennsylvania residents. 72 percent of graduates remain in Pennsylvania to begin their careers and raise their families.

They give back in meaningful and measurable ways by contributing their skills and knowledge to the workforce, adding vibrancy to their communities through service, and supporting state and local economies as taxpayers.

A college degree prepares you for success in a complicated world with ever changing labor markets and economies.

LHU will continue to look for new opportunities to innovate and meet the needs of the Commonwealth’s ever-evolving workforce. Our associate degree programs provide affordable two-year pathways to a degree in job-ready areas and are the ideal option for many students to begin work on a bachelor’s degree or to prepare them for employment.

We’ve expanded our nursing program to the main campus to create an expanded career path for local students.

And we will continue to explore student-centered educational options like credits earned for work experience and more stackable credentials — beginning with credit-bearing certificates — to start students on a path toward a degree and give them marketable skills employers want and need.

As we look forward, we will continue efforts to create affordable ways for students to earn their education.

In 2018, LHU launched initiatives including a student retention fund, new needs-based-aid options, and an overall reduction in fees to meet students’ needs and reduce their financial burden.

Multiple merit-based scholarships are also available for new and returning students.

In addition, the University has partnered with Keystone Central and other local school districts on dual enrollment so that more high school students can earn college credits.

As we begin a new academic year and usher in our 150th anniversary, Lock Haven University is committed to maintaining its place as the affordable, quality choice for the students we serve.

Robert M. Pignatello is the 15th president of Lock Haven University.

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