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Pennsylvania hosts a large and diverse workforce. While overall job growth in the state may appear underwhelming on the surface, analysts project that many of Pennsylvania's industries will provide stronger opportunities for highly skilled and educated professionals in the near future. Experts also project growth and job openings in many of Pennsylvania's largest industries, along with some of the nation's highest respective wages in those fields.
For students in Pennsylvania, the outlook appears promising, as many of the most popular degree choices in the country feed into these opportunity-filled industries. The state's higher education system continues to push for better educational opportunities to meet the growing demand for professionals in these industries.
The expanding online education system plays a significant role in satisfying those demands as well, enrolling a great number of students and offering a variety of programs in burgeoning industries. The following information should help the state's students identify some of the best career and educational opportunities, along with some of the best cheap online colleges in Pennsylvania.
Job Outlook for Students With College Degrees in Pennsylvania
While the job outlook in Pennsylvania lags behind the national averages in many areas, the picture looks promising for new graduates and highly trained professionals. The state's annual unemployment rate of 4.1% ranks higher than the national rate of 3.8%, but that represents the lowest annual unemployment rate in Pennsylvania since 2000 . Moreover, the state's projected 1.5% growth in non-farm employment ranks below most other states, but Pennsylvania also hosts the eighth-highest percentage of people over the age of 65 in the country, which indicates substantial turnover.
With a high percentage of trained professionals leaving the workforce and a smaller percentage of workers filling the gap, many Pennsylvania industries will experience low job growth but strong job opportunity, especially for highly educated professionals. Analysts project that, by 2020, 63% of jobs in Pennsylvania will require some postsecondary education. Rising to meet that growing demand, 30% of Pennsylvanians over the age of 25 held a bachelor's degree or higher between 2012 and 2016.
Among other advanced skills, the state Department of Labor and Industry projects that advanced technological expertise makes up many of the most in-demand skills through 2024. As the Pennsylvanian skilled workforce shrinks, more job openings for new professionals open, boding well for graduates from affordable online colleges in Pennsylvania.
Unemployment Rate, August 2018
Annual Mean Wage, May 2017
Cost of Online Colleges in Pennsylvania
While some of the many cheap online colleges in Pennsylvania offer lower tuition prices than on-campus schools, tuition prices typically cost the same for online and on-campus programs in this state and across the country. Still, students in online programs can find savings in studying online. With lesser or no residency requirements, many online students save money on travel expenses and rent.
Some online schools require fewer physical materials or charge lower facility fees than on-campus schools. Pennsylvania tuition ranks higher than the national average, but the state also maintains one of the largest student bodies and highest graduation rates in the country, attesting to a high-quality education. The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education seeks to improve these numbers even more by striving to increase student access and affordability for all state programs.
While the table below highlights that Pennsylvania's tuition prices rank higher than the national average for two-year and four-year programs, students still enroll in online programs in significant numbers. A higher percentage of students enrolled in some online schooling in Pennsylvania than the average state. Note that the following numbers do not incorporate all the expenses associated with an online program, such as books, facility fees, rent, and transportation.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Pennsylvania
Tuition for out-of-state students typically costs significantly more than for in-state residents. Since the state allocates resources to residents studying within its state borders, Pennsylvania residents typically see lower tuition fees than their out-of-state peers. Additionally, Pennsylvania residents receive state funding opportunities that out-of-state students might not gain access to, further decreasing the cost of education. However, out-of-state learners studying in Pennsylvania receive additional benefits of their own, specifically when studying online.
Compared to the national average, tuition for out-of-state students in Pennsylvania compares much more closely than in-state tuition. For out-of-state students studying online, the near-average tuition rates provide greater access to Pennsylvania's higher education programs. Furthermore, some online programs offer a flat tuition rate, regardless of residency location, making make Pennsylvania an ideal location for out-of-state study.
Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
Financial Aid in Pennsylvania
For students demonstrating financial need, Pennsylvania provides some of the best financial aid opportunities in the country. Not only does it offer the 15th highest state grant funding per student among all states, but Pennsylvania puts more than 27% of higher education support toward funding for needs-based students, the second-most of any state. The increased access to funding makes higher-than-average tuition rates more manageable for students with financial needs.
During the first step in the financial assistance process, students should complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). For students in Pennsylvania, completing the FAFSA grants eligibility for federal funding, Pell grants, and aid in the process for receiving other state funding, such as the Pennsylvania state grant program . Together, these applications provide state and federal governments with enough information to accurately assess each student's needs.
Pennsylvania also offers other financial aid programs for students, including loan forgiveness programs and tuition reimbursement for career-related education. Students should explore scholarships as well, including program-specific, school-specific, and state-specific offerings.
State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17
Source: The College Board
Scholarships and Grants for Pennsylvania College Students
Scholarships come in different forms for students in Pennsylvania. While the state provides scholarship opportunities, some of the best scholarship opportunities come from organizations within Pennsylvania. These benefactors look to stimulate educational growth within the state by supporting residents in the hopes that they will explore schooling and, in turn, better the community.
The Pennsylvania Society Scholarship Program
- Who Can Apply: Presented by The Maguire Foundation and The Pennsylvania Society, this scholarship awards Pennsylvania high school seniors that demonstrate community leadership and academic excellence. Applicants must attend a four-year university in Pennsylvania.
- Amount: $8,000
The Foundation for Enhancing Communities Scholarships
- Who Can Apply: The TFEC presents more than 120 scholarship funds to high school seniors residing in Pennsylvania. Applicants must demonstrate academic excellence and community leadership.
- Amount: Varies
Philadelphia City Scholarship Program
- Who Can Apply: Available to residents of Philadelphia, this scholarship provides funding for high school seniors with a 3.0 GPA applying to a four-year college in one of the major counties in Philadelphia.
- Amount: $1,000 for each year
Fitz Dixon Memorial Scholarship
- Who Can Apply: The State System of Higher Education presents this scholarship to applicants who demonstrate financial need, community involvement, and academic excellence. Undergraduate applicants must possess 3.0 GPAs.
- Amount: $500
Arthur Williams Phillips Scholarship
- Who Can Apply: Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education presents this award to students who demonstrate financial need and academic excellence. Though the scholarship programs give preference to specific counties, all Pennsylvania residents may apply.
- Amount: Up to $1,000
Champion Energy Scholarship
- Who Can Apply: Provided to help students in the communities supported by the Champion Energy organization, this scholarship provides funding to Pennsylvania students with 3.0 GPAs and winning essays on community leadership.
- Amount: $1,000 - $5,000
Horatio Alger State Scholarship
- Who Can Apply: The Horatio Alger State Scholarship presents its award to a Pennsylvania student with a strong commitment to the community and postsecondary education. Applicants must demonstrate resilience, financial needs, and 2.0 GPAs.
- Amount: Up to $10,000
- Who Can Apply: Pennsylvania State University presents the Renaissance Scholarship to students with great financial need and academic excellence. Applicants must boast a 3.0 GPA.
- Amount: $1,500 renewable annually
The Mayor's Scholarship
- Who Can Apply: The University of Pennsylvania presents the Mayor's Scholarship to a Philadelphia county student who demonstrates financial need.
- Amount: Varies
- Who Can Apply: Pennsylvania State University provides the Bunton-Waller Scholarship to students who demonstrate the highest financial need. Each applicant must possess a 2.5 GPA.
- Amount: $3,200 renewable annually
Best Majors for Online Students in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the expected shortages of skilled workers in many of the state's biggest industries should also create excellent opportunities for new graduates in some of the most popular college study areas . Pennsylvania employs one of the largest collections of business professionals in the country and pays some of the highest annual mean wages.
Despite the aging population, analysts still project growth in the state's business industry. Many people also expect positive things from the field of healthcare practitioners . Pennsylvania employs the fifth-largest workforce of these skilled professionals, providing them with some of the highest wages in the nation as well.
Finally, the social services field provides substantial career opportunities for Pennsylvania's graduates. With the fourth-largest workforce of any state and some of the best wages, the world of social services exists as an ideal career for Pennsylvania students. The most in-demand skills in the state line up with these three professions as well, indicating that Pennsylvania employers will seek out students trained in these fields. The following majors, available from online colleges in Pennsylvania, support these booming industries.
Certified Nurse Assistant
Resources for Online College Students in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Department of Education: Through the higher education section, the PDE provides students with reports on the state's academic programs, including statistics on testing and graduation rates, as well as information on faculties and institutional research, providing transparency and helping to inform students with their educational choices.
- Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education : For students, the state system acts as a powerful resource for information about Pennsylvania's largest educator, including data on students and faculty, plus graduation rates and program offerings. Students can also find details on the state's most in-demand fields and financial aid opportunities.
- Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency : PHEAA primarily produces financial aid resources, offering FAFSA application assistance and highlighting state grant opportunities. It also helps students locate work-study placements and acts as a college planning resource. Overall, PHEEA helps students identify the professional field and educational program that best suits their interests and personalities.
- Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties : Though the APSCUF represents faculty members, the association also provides scholarships, internship opportunities, and resources for students. The association strives to improve the state's higher education system, including better student funding, academic freedom, and institutional transparency.
- Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania : Supporting the faculty and students within Pennsylvania's private institutions, AICUP seeks better funding, lower program costs, and improved educational standards for all. For students, the association also boasts scholarship opportunities, internships, and research opportunities. The association makes available information on the state's institutions and programs, along with industry publications as well.
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