Senator Pennycuick E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Mobile Office Hours
  • Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education Freezes Tuition Again
  • Issues with Trash Hauler Services
  • Hedwig House Inc. Back to School Supply Drive
  • Free Webinars to Help Students and Families Navigate the Financial Aid Process
  • How to Conserve Water During Statewide Drought Watch
  • Water Assistance Available for Low-Income Families
  • Sign Up for PA’s Do Not Call List
  • Beware of Unsolicited Emails Claiming to be from PA Treasury
  • Celebrating Independent Retailer Month

Mobile Office Hours

Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education Freezes Tuition Again

The Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) voted unanimously to freeze tuition for an unprecedented fifth consecutive year and applauded the General Assembly and Governor Josh Shapiro for their strong support of State System students. 

With the decision, tuition for in-state undergraduate students – nearly 90% of whom are Pennsylvania residents – will be flat for six consecutive years (2018-19–2023-24). If tuition had kept pace with inflation since 2018, it would be 21% higher today. 

“Freezing tuition for a fifth consecutive year has been a major priority for the State System universities to best serve our 85,000 students – many of whom are from low- and middle-income families,” said Cynthia Shapira, chair of the Board of Governors. “Our students depend on PASSHE universities for a high-quality education at the lowest cost. 

“The State System is incredibly appreciative to the General Assembly and Governor Shapiro for their continued strong investment in PASSHE students and the state-owned, public universities that serve them. PASSHE was created to benefit Pennsylvania, and funding from the state is a lifeline for our students to have access to higher education.”

The state budget passed by the House and Senate would provide an increase of $33 million, or 6%, to PASSHE universities. With that level of investment, in the last two years the state has increased funding by $108 million, or nearly 23%, with PASSHE receiving $585.6 million in 2023-24, up from $477.5 million in 2021-22.

“PASSHE is proud of our partnership with the state, which helps Pennsylvania’s students get the education and skills for the most in-demand jobs at the lowest cost,” said Chancellor Dan Greenstein. “Higher education is changing, and State System universities are continuing to evolve to meet the new needs of students, employers and Pennsylvania’s economy. Together with the state, we are strengthening the pipeline of talented and skilled people from the classroom to the workforce and providing value to students as they gain the knowledge to build successful careers close to home.”

In addition to keeping in-state undergraduate tuition at $7,716 for a sixth year, PASSHE students will receive $125 million in university-funded financial aid to help them afford their education. The tuition freeze and aid are possible due to increased state funding and PASSHE universities saving $300 million through a commitment to cost efficiencies.

State System universities are a major contributor to Pennsylvania’s workforce and align academic programs to the needs of local communities and employers. In fact, PASSHE universities have increased the number of students graduating into high-demand careers – healthcare, STEM, education and business – since 2010, despite there being fewer total students. 

State System highlights:

  • Nearly 90% of students are from Pennsylvania, 33% of entering students are the first members of their family to go to college and 22% are part-time students. 
  • Over 35% of students have family incomes of $48,000 or less.
  • More than 20% of students are underrepresented minority students
  • PASSHE guarantees admission to transfer students with associate degrees from Pa. Community Colleges. 
  • College graduates earn $866,144 more over their careers than those without a degree.
  • PASSHE universities contribute $4 billion in economic impact to Pennsylvania and are principal employers in their regions.

Issues with Trash Hauler Services

My office has recently been hearing from constituents about issues with their trash haulers no longer providing service. Constituents are encouraged to file complaints with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General against their trash hauler. The Office of Attorney General has acted before against trash haulers who failed to comply with their contracts and failed to provide refunds to consumers who pre-paid for services and did not obtain the service. The consumer complaint form can be submitted electronically or can be printed out. If constituents would prefer to submit a paper version, my office could submit their completed complaint form to the Office of Attorney General. Pages 4 and 5 of the printable version includes more information. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is also aware of this problem and looking into the issue.

Hedwig House Inc. Back to School Supply Drive

With proper resources students find the confidence to return to school and are empowered to do their best work. We must ensure our children effective and equitable learning environments. Items can be dropped off at my district office at 56 W 4th Street, Red Hill PA 18076.

Free Webinars to Help Students and Families Navigate the Financial Aid Process

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is holding two free statewide webinars to assist college-bound students and their families with navigating the financial aid process.

Speakers will discuss how students and families can take advantage of PA Forward, which is Pennsylvania’s state-based private student loan option offered by PHEAA.

The first webinar, Deep Dive into Covering the Gap, will be held Tuesday, July 25, at noon. The second, Borrowing for Education – Which Loan is Right for Me?, will be held Thursday, July 27, at 6:30 p.m. Register to attend the one-hour webinars here.

How to Conserve Water During Statewide Drought Watch

The Department of Environmental Protection declared a statewide drought watch and is encouraging residents and businesses to voluntarily conserve water by reducing nonessential water use.

Some ways to limit water use include watering the garden less frequently; sweeping your sidewalk, deck or driveway instead of hosing it off; and running the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads. Read more water conservation tips here.

The current drought declaration status, by county, can be found here.

Water Assistance Available for Low-Income Families

The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) is a temporary emergency program to help low-income families pay overdue water bills. The money does not need to be repaid.

LIHWAP assistance may be available if you have an emergency situation and are in jeopardy of losing your water service. You can receive one crisis grant for your drinking water service and one crisis grant for your wastewater service, up to $2,500 each. Qualifying crisis situations include past-due water bills, termination of utility service and danger of having utility service terminated (received a notice that service will be shut off within the next 60 days).

For more information – including income limits – or to apply for assistance, click here.

Sign Up for PA’s Do Not Call List

Unwanted telemarketing calls can be a nuisance and an intrusion upon your privacy, but there are ways to minimize the calls.

Sign up for Pennsylvania’s Do Not Call List, which no longer requires you to re-register every five years, here or by calling 1-888-777-3406. Verify your enrollment here.

Unfortunately, because of spoofing – a call showing a different name or phone number than is actually associated with the caller – signing up for the Do Not Call list will not stop all unwanted calls.

Beware of Unsolicited Emails Claiming to be from PA Treasury

Online scams are a constant threat. Lately, there have been sophisticated phishing emails imitating the Pennsylvania Treasury Department circulating. The messages include a link to what appears to be Treasury’s website, but instead leads to a fake version that prompts users to enter log-in credentials.

The Pennsylvania Treasury Department will never ask you to share personal information through unsolicited emails or text messages.

If you receive a suspicious message claiming to be from the Pennsylvania Treasury Department or have questions, contact Treasury through its secure website.

Celebrating Independent Retailer Month

July is Independent Retailer Month, a shop local event that encourages consumers to patronize small businesses. It also highlights the positive impact independent retailers have on their communities, through the jobs and economic boost they produce.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there were 1.1 million small businesses in Pennsylvania that employed 2.6 million people in 2022.

To support employers in the commonwealth and the benefits they provide, Senate Republicans passed a state budget that adds tens of millions of new dollars for workforce development, job training, and career and technical education.


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