HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is entering the next phase of its redesign after merging multiple universities.

The 14-state university system received a 16% increase in funding from the state, now receiving $552 million plus $125 million in one-time federal economic recovery funds after years of what they called ‘chronic underfunding.’

“You kind of get what you pay for and we’re here,” said PASSHE Chancellor Dan Greenstein. “We can do the job but it requires a partnership with the state.”

During state budget negotiations in June, Greenstein said the system’s financial house is in order but they’re “at a pivot point” and the system “cannot continue as we have been.”

On Thursday PASSHE approved a plan to use the money that includes continuing a years-long tuition freeze. But how does the system plan to increase visibility and enrollment?

“Gotta deliver for the students,” said Greenstein. “Create more students with good credentials into great jobs where they can sustain themselves and their families.”

Greenstein says he must recruit and retrain non-traditional students, all while meeting them where they are in a post-COVID world.

“Educating adults with a family and a job and is probably not on campus is a fundamentally different proposition than educating a Latina female student directly graduating from high school.”

The one goal, Greenstein says, is training and qualifying workers for the opportunities of tomorrow.

“Sixty percent of all the jobs in this state require someone with a higher education and only 51% of the people in the state have that. So there’s this gap and we can fill that gap.”

Get daily updates on local news, weather and sports by signing up for the WTAJ Newsletter

It costs about $23,000 for tuition, room and board for the average PASSHE student.