A proposed cut for higher education funding in Pennsylvania continues to be cancelled, says The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Karen Langley. Governor Tom Corbett announced on February 1 that an agreement among the public universities will allow the state to keep its funding level for advanced schooling steady from 2012 to 2013.? Their state will spend $1.58 billion for that second year in a row.
Universities received flat funding this season after legislators undid $245 million in proposed cuts. In return for their restorations, Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University agreed to limit any tuition increase this season to the consumer price index.
The public universities have together kept their tuition increases to the lowest rate in 10 years. Temple University did not raise tuition at all, while Penn State last year kept its increase below 3%.
Like many states, Pennsylvania faces a financial budget crisis. Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman noticed that Medicaid and debt service, amongst other things, will push Pennsylvania’s spending beyond its tax revenue next year. It was not easy to see how university funding could be rescued, but a commission of economic and education leaders studied the problem and presented a recommendation. The important thing was a contract about tuition:
In November, an advisory commission recommended their state level-fund higher education the coming year and tie future increases to the success of post-secondary institutions in keeping their programs accessible and affordable. The commission is made up of leaders in business and higher education, including Mark Nordenberg, chancellor from the University of Pittsburgh.
Nordenberg asserted his commission thought higher education should develop performance evaluation methods as used in business. One measure would be tuition growth, but not surprisingly, the businessmen around the commission also suggested measuring university responsiveness to workforce needs. They ought to also track the way they are doing in reaching groups that don’t traditionally reach university.
At the announcement this afternoon, Mr. Nordenberg thanked the governor for launching the budget season “with techniques that are consistent” with the commission’s recommendations. “That report really does give to us a constructive path moving forward,” he said.
The governor too set a confident tone in the Harrisburg press conference, accompanied by Penn State trustees assuring representatives whose districts have public universities. He declared that students shouldn\’t begin their working lives with a mountain of debt because of constant tuition increases. Not just has funding remained steady for 2 years, but 2013 will also be the second year that Pennsylvania has put 40% of its state budget toward education.
The state’s advanced schooling system comprises not just the large Penn State, University of Pittsburgh and Temple University campuses, but additionally a string of smaller public universities. These fourteen universities have tuition that is as much as half as little as the large public universities’ rates. West Chester, Indiana, Bloomsburg and Kutztown would be the largest campuses. In-state tuition for the current school year is $6,428.
Some other states are starting to recover from budget problems and increase funding for advanced schooling. A recent report by the Chronicle of Higher Education showed that 30 states be prepared to increase spending by as little as .1% or around 14%. Most states have slashed education spending within the last five years, but more are now keeping it at least level, like Pennsylvania. Projections estimate that it\’ll take some time for rates revisit pre-2008 levels.