State budget passes; University sees increases in key programs

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Pennsylvania's state legislature passed the 2013-14 state budget today that includes level funding for the general support appropriation for Penn State and Pennsylvania’s other state-related and state-owned universities, and welcomed increases in some key programs. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced plans to maintain level funding for the universities when he unveiled his 2013-14 budget proposal in February.

“We appreciate the efforts of the state legislature and the governor to maintain level funding for Penn State, during a period when the state's economy is still struggling,” Erickson said. “Each year, the state’s general support appropriation is used to offset the cost of tuition for Pennsylvania resident students and their families. Combined with Penn State’s significant and ongoing work to cut costs, continued state support will ensure that we are able to provide the Commonwealth’s best and brightest students with the opportunity to receive a top-flight education, no matter their socioeconomic background.”

The state’s general support appropriation to Penn State amounts to about $214 million, funding that is used to directly reduce the cost of tuition for Pennsylvania residents. In addition, the budget also includes an increase of $1.5 million for a total of $46,237,000 for agricultural research and Extension; a $2 million increase for a total of $15,584,000 for Penn College; and $6.5 million for the Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

In the past two decades, Penn State has cut $237.7 million in recurring costs from its operating budget, including $67 million in cuts to recurring costs since 2008. This year's level funding for the University comes two years after a $68 million reduction in the state's appropriation to Penn State, brought on by the recent economic downturn. In response, the University has eliminated hundreds of jobs through layoffs and attrition, held the line on salaries twice in the past four years, cut academic programs and merged academic departments.

At the same time, Penn State kept last year's average undergraduate tuition increase to 2.4 percent, the lowest increase since 1967 and among the lowest in public higher education nationwide. The University currently is in the latter stage of a major fundraising campaign, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, the largest component of which is scholarship support. Erickson said the University is aiming to make the next tuition increase very modest.

Erickson said the University will continue its longstanding efforts to identify savings and efficiencies. The cost-cutting initiatives implemented over the long term, he said, have helped the University to remain accessible. Penn State is now educating more than 96,000 students a year at 24 campuses and online. Currently the University's appropriation is the same as it was in 1995, when Penn State's total enrollment was 76,600.

The final 2013-14 Penn State budget is scheduled for presentation to the board for approval at its next meeting, scheduled for July 11-12 at Penn State Fayette, the Eberly Campus.

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Last Updated July 04, 2013