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Students and alumni

Welcome to the APSCUF students’ page! Here you will find the latest information about how contract negotiations affect you, upcoming events, student-centered projects, contacting your legislator, and APSCUF scholarships and internships. Click the links below to jump to the corresponding sections:

APSCUF is the voice for a quality public higher education that works to ensure students receive all the educational benefits and opportunities possible from our 14 state colleges and universities. Representing more than 100,000 students from the State System universities, APSCUF is dedicated to keeping students updated through our APSCUF Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest pages. We’re also on Snapchat (APSCUF). Follow us!

STUDENT DEBT AND COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY

Decades ago, a college student could work a summer job and complete college with a degree and little to no student debt. That’s not the story anymore. And the situation is magnified in Pennsylvania: The Commonwealth ranks at or near the bottom of U.S. rankings for higher-education investment, college affordability and student debt. Our state-owned university system was created to provide an affordable higher-education opportunity for all Pennsylvanians, but today that opportunity escapes so many of the people for whom it was intended. The state — which owns these universities — only funds about a quarter of their cost, almost the inverse of the commitment it made to students when Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education began.

APSCUF has been a constant, consistent voice in the call for additional state funding. We will not give up this fight. With your help, we can fight even harder.

What would you do if you could afford college without having to take on massive debt? In our fight to secure necessary and needed funding for our State System universities, we want to share your stories as students and alumni. Numbers are important, and we point out the startling and depressing statistics about Pennsylvania’s higher-education rankings when we meet with legislators. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story — or your story.

Your story can make a difference, and we want to help you share it with those who make decisions about funding and costs for our universities. Here’s how you can take action:

  • Record your message and upload it to Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or Facebook (Make sure the settings are set to public.)
  • Tag your video with #fundPAfuture.
  • We want to hear from current students and alumni (many of whom may still be grappling with the effects of student-loan debt).

As you consider the message you want to share, consider how a truly affordable college education affects your:

  • Ability to afford food (Have you visited food pantries on campus?)
  • Ability to buy books
  • Ability to fully pay tuition and/or fees
  • Ability to afford rent/housing
  • Ability to afford a car/public transit
  • Ability to take an unpaid internship, participate in student activities, participate in volunteer opportunities
  • Ability to take a job in their field following graduation
Sydney's stress

“Although I’m not paying my student debt right now, thinking about paying it in the future really does stress me out, and I hate thinking about how much debt I’ll probably be in for the next decade,” Sydney, a student at Slippery Rock University, shared. It’s time to #fundPAfuture, so students can afford higher education without the stress of student debt.

Click on the boxes below to watch other student stories.

Abigail's experience

“I don’t feel like I’m getting the full college experience — all because it’s a little bit too much,” Abigail, a freshman at Slippery Rock University, shared. It’s time to #fundPAfuture so students can afford to live on campus without going into debt.

Fischer's concerns

“Seeing other people struggle and not being able to get that jump-start in life is hard because I feel like not everyone’s given a fair chance,” Fischer, a student at Slippery Rock University, shared. It’s time to #fundPAfuture so students can afford higher education without starting their careers in debt.

Emma's worries

Emma, a Slippery Rock University student, shared her written concerns about the costs of college. Her comments have been edited for length and clarity. Click here to view and share Emma’s story on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

In high school, I did not think about college a lot — the expenses it was going to cost or the difficulties I may have in the future. Luckily enough, my parents saved money up for me to go to college, but it still did not cover all expenses — like books, the new computer I needed and living on campus. Sure, a loan here and there has helped me, but it is still scary to think I have three more years after this one to pay for college. I had no clue how much it would cost to live on campus, and another big shock to me is how much one book can cost.

In the summer, I started a babysitting job to make extra money going into college, but I still need more. I didn’t think it was going to be as expensive as it was. I am unable to work, due to my hours of schoolwork and the classes I have. Plus, I know it would add on more stress than I already have. As much as I want to work and make money, I am already stressed enough about my grades and just getting by day to day without having anxiety about my classes, tests and homework I have to complete.

I have some friends that commute, and they have difficulties getting to class and worrying about weather because they can’t afford to live in dorms … It makes me sad people I know have to deal with things like this and can’t have the full college experience and live on campus with their peers, but I understand where they are coming from. Living on or off campus is expensive, especially off campus in an apartment, which I don’t think I will be able to do without saving up for two years.

Madison's challenges

Madison, a Shippensburg University student, wrote about balancing the cost of college with her grades and experiences. Click on the links to view and share Madison’s story on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

“Most people have student debt. Debt shouldn’t turn you away from college.” Something I’ve been told since I started my college career. While I always had slight concerns about how I would afford repaying student loans while starting adulthood, I continued my higher-education journey.

After my freshman year of college, I realized that I needed to find an on-campus job to help pay for various expenses. Every year I spend close to $25,000 toward a bachelor’s degree. Of that $25,000, 20% goes toward tuition and other institutional costs to provide education to students. Total costs at Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities — including tuition, fees, and room and board — have increased 62.4% from 2009–10 to 2018–19. Required textbooks started costing hundreds, and miscellaneous expenses added up. I continued my sophomore year taking 17 credit hours per week, working a part-time job, and playing in the Shippensburg University Marching Band. I was trying to maintain good grades and experience college while balancing the crippling expenses of college. It was hard.

I am very privileged in that I don’t have to commute to campus daily, but there are students who don’t have the opportunity to live on campus and experience college due to the decreased affordability. I still worry about how I will afford loan repayment after graduation. I am hopeful that I will secure a job that will allow me financial freedom as I navigate post-education adulthood.

SAVE PROGRAMS AND JOBS: HELP US AVOID RETRENCHMENT

Your faculty members’ union, APSCUF, is working diligently to find alternatives to layoffs. Your support and advocacy as students and alumni would be an immense help to the cause. Find answers to your frequently asked questions by expanding the boxes below. If you’re a student journalist, contact Kathryn Morton, APSCUF’s communications director, to schedule an interview to discuss retrenchment and how it could affect your university.

What is retrenchment?

Retrenchment is the dismissal of a faculty member through no fault of their own. In other words, it is not because of a disciplinary issue, and it is not because they are not performing their jobs. Retrenchment leads to a permanent reduction in the number of faculty, and universities with the possibility of retrenchment could find other, less devastating ways to meet their financial goals.

How would retrenchment affect students?

In 2020, the State System announced it wanted to return to the student/faculty ratios of 2010–11 within two years. This will be extremely difficult to achieve in that timeframe without retrenching hundreds of faculty. If universities retrench faculty, the impact on students will be extreme. A smaller faculty means higher student/faculty ratios. Classes could be larger, and programs could be cut. We don’t know for sure what will happen, but we know that faculty cuts take opportunities away from students.

Why is retrenchment a possibility now, during a global pandemic?

While the State System began a redesign years ago, APSCUF continually questions why the State System wants to make cuts in the midst of a global pandemic, with such exceptional circumstances. This is not the time to make changes that would be detrimental to students and to faculty. Cuts now could affect programs and student success for years to come.

How many faculty members could be retrenched?

At the end of the 2020–21 school year, faculty were retrenched from Cheyney, Edinboro, Lock Haven and Indiana Universities of Pennsylvania. Of course, we hope no additional faculty are retrenched.

In October 2021, Lock Haven and Mansfield universities issues letters of letters of intent to retrench faculty. APSCUF is working at the state and university levels to find alternatives to cuts. Click here to read more about these letters.

When will faculty members know if they’ll be retrenched?

The APSCUF collective bargaining agreement, our contract with the State System, specifies dates by which faculty members must be given official notice that they could be retrenched at the end of the academic year*. Tenured faculty members are to be sent letters by certified mail or hand delivery on or before Oct. 30; probationary non-tenured faculty members beyond the second year, on or before Dec. 1; second-year probationary non-tenured faculty members, on or before Dec. 15; and first-year probationary non-tenured faculty members, on or before March 1.

Receiving a letter does not mean the faculty member definitely will lose their job. The union is working at the state and university levels to find alternatives to cuts, including qualified transfers to other departments or universities within the State System, which the APSCUF contract makes possible.

* A side letter between APSCUF and the State System changes the timeline for 2021 letters of intent to retrench.

What are faculty members doing to fight retrenchment?

APSCUF is working diligently to find alternatives to layoffs. APSCUF leaders at the state and university levels are meeting with administrators regularly to discuss options.

What can students and alumni do to fight retrenchment?

Your support and advocacy as students and alumni can be an immense help to the cause. Students and alumni can:

  • Write letters to the editor and columns for your student publications and local news outlets. Write about the importance of the university in the community, about how higher education improved your life, and about the quality of education you’ve received. You don’t have to be an English or journalism major to write an effective letter. YOUR story is compelling and important. YOUR story can make a difference.
  • Reach out to your campus’ APSCUF chapter and ask about upcoming advocacy events in which you can participate. Click here to find APSCUF chapter contact information.
  • Contact your legislators to express your support of YOUR quality education and your faculty. Click here to look up legislator contact information.
  • Tell your university’s administration, Chancellor Daniel Greenstein and the State System Board of Governors that you support YOUR quality education and your faculty. Find Board of Governors contact information here.
  • If you’re a student journalist, contact Kathryn Morton, APSCUF’s communications director, to schedule an interview to discuss retrenchment and how it could affect your university (even if yours is not one of the threatened campuses). Start with an email to kmorton@apscuf.org.
  • The State System wants to return to the high student/faculty ratios of 2010–11. If you were a State System student during that period, your story could help APSCUF’s advocacy efforts. You can submit a description of your experiences via the form at the bottom of this section or visit this page for a stand-alone form. If you weren’t a student during that time but you know parents, siblings, relatives and friends who were, please share the link with them and encourage them to submit their stories.
  • Talk about retrenchment with your fellow students, and discuss how it could affect all of you. Share the APSCUF.org/students page.
  • Follow APSCUF on social media: We’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You also can subscribe to the APSCUF blog (subscription box on the righthand side).

ALUMNI, TELL US YOUR STORY. The State System wants to return to the high student/faculty ratios of 2010–11. If you were a State System student during that period, your story could help APSCUF’s advocacy efforts. You can submit a description of your experiences using the form below. (Hover over the form and scroll down to view the entire form.) Thank you for taking action.

STUDENTS AND ALUMNI FOR ACTION: HELP APSCUF ADVOCATE FOR YOU

APSCUF faculty and coaches are proud to provide our students with the best education possible, and we work tirelessly in that endeavor. From time to time, we have opportunities for students and alumni to join us in the fight for quality, affordable higher education in Pennsylvania. If you’re interested in participating in select APSCUF activities, please complete the form below. (Hover over the form and scroll down to view the entire form.) Thank you for taking action.

 

STATE APSCUF SCHOLARSHIP

APSCUF offers a $3,000 scholarship to relatives of APSCUF or APSCURF members in good standing. The 2022 application deadline was June 1, and we have selected our 2022 recipient. Direct questions to APSCUF’s director of membership services at 717-236-7486, Ext. 3021.

Congratulations to Mia Ola of California University of Pennsylvania, our 2022 scholarship recipient. Click here to read more about her. Click here to view a list of past scholarship winners.

Photo: Cal U APSCUF Chapter President Mario Majcen presents Mia Ola with the 2022 APSCUF scholarship. Photo courtesy of Cal U APSCUF

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REGISTER TO VOTE

Make your voice heard by voting. Get started by registering here via this link or by downloading an application here. Oct. 24, 2022, is the last day to register before the Nov. 8, 2022, election.

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GOVERNMENT/PUBLIC RELATIONS INTERNSHIP

We offer a paid internship in government and public relations for undergraduates attending a Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education university. The APSCUF internship is a great opportunity for a student interested in government, politics, public affairs, journalism or communication. APSCUF interns must be professional, self-motivated and skilled communicators. Our interns have gone on to jobs in the legislature, lobbying and the news media (see Where are the APSCUF interns now?).

We are seeking a junior or senior majoring in political science, communication, journalism or a related field to serve as a government relations/communication intern at the state APSCUF office building at 319 N. Front St. in Harrisburg. The student internship must be for academic credit under the supervision of a State System university faculty member. The successful applicant should have strong knowledge of government workings, as well as excellent oral and written communication skills. APSCUF will pay $11 per hour, and interns are expected to work 35 hours each week, Monday through Friday.

Upcoming and current internships:

  • The 2023 internship application will be posted in late fall 2022. The internship will run Tuesday, May 30, 2023, through Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. The application deadline will be Feb 13, 2023. 

For more information, please contact Kathryn Morton, communications director.

Want to learn a little more about our internship — from past interns’ perspectives? Read their blog posts:

Johnson: ‘Invaluable’ experience built connections, sparked interests
Stough: Solidarity and humanity are keys to higher education
Bower: APSCUF intern makes valuable connections during summer of meaningful, appreciable work
Ford: Work for a union that’s working for you
Miller: Enjoy the time you have to learn
Danvers: Be confident with an open mind
Leahy: People make APSCUF experience, fall intern says
Newton: Summer internship full of learning, experience
Mansfield: Winter intern reflects on month at APSCUF
Rebuck: Why an APSCUF internship is for you
Matthews: 10 Reasons Why You Should Intern for APSCUF

APSCUF interns have gone on to great careers and adventures. Click here to read about where some of our past interns are now.

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STAND UP FOR AFFORDABLE COLLEGE NOW WITH PENNSYLVANIA PROMISE

Pennsylvania students are leaving college with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and who knows how many students are simply not going to college because they cannot afford it? Pennsylvania, which U.S. News this year ranked 50th in higher education, is failing a generation by not providing affordable public higher education. It’s time for Pennsylvania Promise — a plan to make higher education affordable in the Commonwealth. APSCUF is a proud partner of this plan, and we encourage you to get involved as well. Click here to visit the Pennsylvania Promise website to learn more information about how to attend a rally, contact legislators and Gov. Tom Wolf to show your support, or to share your story about paying for college. And be sure to follow PA Promise on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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FUNDING FOR OUR STATE SYSTEM: WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW

About 500 people filled the Capitol rotunda Feb. 8, 2016, to advocate for fair funding for our 14 state-owned universities. The event was a roaring display of unity and activism featuring legislators and State System students, faculty members, and alumni. But our work is not over, and there is much you can do:

  • Contact your legislators and tell them the importance of fair funding for your university and the entire State System.
  • Contact your university’s APSCUF office to find out how you can get involved on your campus.
  • Apply for an APSCUF internship to learn more about what the organization does for students, faculty, and coaches — and to take an active role in our efforts.

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DACA RESOURCES

APSCUF’s September 2017 legislative assembly approved two statements about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, one of which called for APSCUF to compile and post a list of local and statewide resources available to students (and staff and faculty) on our campuses whose immigration status is at risk in the wake of the recision of the DACA program. Click here to view the list so far.

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FACULTY AND COACH CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS

Your professors, coaches, and other faculty members are organized in the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties. This union negotiates with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to reach fair collective-bargaining agreements that facilitate faculty and coach members’ ability to provide quality, affordable higher education. Our current agreements expire June 30, 2023, and we expect to begin negotiations with the State System in summer 2022. Read updates about negotiations in our news center here.

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LEARN MORE

Click this link or the image below to watch a video about how APSCUF provides students with the best education possible.