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A postsecondary credential is quickly becoming the only reliable gateway to the middle class. A college certificate or degree is associated with higher household income and stability, better health, and a stronger, more competitive economy. By 2020, 63 percent of new jobs in Pennsylvania will require some college education. But only 40 percent of Pennsylvania residents hold an associate’s degree or higher.


Yet the cost of a college degree in Pennsylvania is among the highest in the country, and 70% of our college graduates are in debt. Why is this the case, and how can we fix it? This PACER brief uses a wide array of state and national data to detail how and why the cost of college is so high in Pennsylvania, and offers evidence-based policy recommendations for making college more affordable to all Pennsylvanians.