WASHINGTON, D.C. – Pennsylvania U.S. Senator John Fetterman yesterday held meetings with groups representing colleges across the Commonwealth to discuss access to higher education, particularly the importance of Pell Grants, and the economic, social, and cultural impact of these institutions.

“I was honored to meet with these higher education champions, and I am grateful to the students and staff who shared how these institutions have changed their lives and their communities. Education is the great equalizer and it’s critical that everyone has access to quality education, regardless of their economic situation,” said Senator Fetterman. I will continue to fight for expanded Pell Grants and tuition-free community colleges, so everyone, including underrepresented communities, can succeed.”

Senator Fetterman first met with the Community College of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, representing Allegheny, Bucks, Butler, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. In the 2020-21 academic year, the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges served nearly 250,000 community college students from all 67 counties, with 42% from historically underrepresented minority groups, and many with average household incomes below the national poverty line. The groups discussed the affordability of higher education and the importance of expanding access to community college.

Senator Fetterman also met with members of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP) representing over a dozen institutions of higher education, including his alma mater Albright College. Senator Fetterman and the group discussed the importance of these institutions to the Commonwealth. These colleges and universities provide local libraries, community centers, and more. They also have a significant economic impact: 1 out of every 32 jobs in the Commonwealth is created, supported or sustained by an AICUP school, resulting in $24 billion in annual economic impact statewide.

Both groups discussed the importance of increasing Pell Grants—especially in the acceptance, enrollment, and graduation of low-income students. Nearly 47,000 Pennsylvania community college students were awarded $191 million in Pell Grants in 2021-22 academic year. Representatives of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges advocated increasing the Pell Grant to keep pace with inflation.