PASSHE to freeze tuition increases for fourth year

Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) plans to freeze tuition hikes for its associated schools for the fourth consecutive year. 

PASSHE’s Board of Governors voted on Thursday to once again freeze any increases in tuition prices for the 90,000 students attending a state system university. 

The vote comes after the board requested $550 million in state funding for this fiscal year in order to offset the need for a tuition increase.  

The board is also seeking $201 million in direct-to-student aid and at least $75 million of the remaining $150 million in federal funding that the state has committed to help permanently control costs at PASSHE schools. 

 “We are hopeful the legislature supports our funding request so we can maintain the tuition freeze,” said Cindy Shapira, chair of the Board of Governors. “With all of the other rising costs in our economy, working families should not have to worry about paying more for tuition at a public university.” 

Basic tuition for in-state undergraduate students at the PASSHE universities has been $7,716 for the last three years. 

PASSHE is currently attempting to control costs, trimming $173 million in operating costs and forgoing at least $63 million through the three years of tuition freezes. 

“Just freezing tuition is not a sustainable strategy without meaningful investment from the Commonwealth,” said State System Chancellor Daniel Greenstein. “Pennsylvania must invest in its state-owned universities if we want them to continue providing the high-quality, affordable education they were born to deliver.” 

Senate approves cannabis banking bill 

State-legal cannabis businesses could have better access to banking and insurance services if a bill passed by the state Senate on Wednesday receives approval from the House. 

The Senate approved Senate Bill 1167, authorizing financial institutions and insurers to provide services to state-legal cannabis businesses. 

The legislation was authored by Senators John DiSanto, R-Dauphin and Perry counties and Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, and would protect against state penalties for banks and insurers that service the medical cannabis industry. 

The approval by the Senate comes after the Pennsylvania Senate Banking and Insurance Committee bipartisan approved the legislation in late March. 

Financial institutions and insurers received guidance in 2014 from the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crime Enforcement Network regarding how they could service cannabis-related businesses. However, federal law does not currently protect financial institutions for servicing cannabis-related businesses. 

The legislation would codify that existing climate of regulatory non-enforcement, according to a release from DiSanto.   

It would also allow the state-legal cannabis industry to operate on credit. Currently companies are forced to operate strictly with cash, making them a target for armed robberies and putting patients and employees in jeopardy, said the release. 

Schools adding financial literacy curriculum

KCA Wealth Management, a financial planning firm with offices in Camp Hill, Hershey and Carlisle, announced a partnership with education innovator EVERFI to bring a financial literacy curriculum to central Pennsylvania students.

A $30,000 donation from KCA is helping local schools set up EVERFI’s financial literacy courses, including Trinity High School, Bishop McDevitt High School, St. Joseph School, Harrisburg Academy, Cumberland Valley High School and Milton Hershey School.

“By developing financial literacy skills at a young age, these students can build the confidence and knowledge to make sound financial decisions,” Brian Kennedy, founder and principal of KCA, said in a release. “My goal is to continue to raise awareness about the need for early financial education and bring these courses to every school in our area.”

The curriculum features three levels:

· Vault: financial literacy for elementary students (grades four to six), in which they learn the basics of finance.

· Venture: entrepreneurial expedition for middle and high school students (grades seven to 10), in which they learn about saving startup capital and recognizing business opportunities, for example.

· EVERFI: financial literacy for high school students (grades nine to 12), which covers such topics as income and employment, budgeting, and financing higher education.