State budget passes; general support appropriation for University remains level

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Pennsylvania's state legislature has passed​, and Gov. Tom Corbett has signed, the 2014-15 state budget, which includes level funding for the general support appropriation for Penn State and Pennsylvania’s other state-related universities. Corbett announced plans to maintain level funding for the universities when he unveiled his 2014-15 budget proposal in February. The budget also includes a $2 million increase for Pennsylvania College of Technology.

“We are appreciative of the efforts of the members of the General Assembly and Gov. Corbett to maintain level funding for Penn State, even as Pennsylvania’s economy continues on a slow path to recovery,” said Penn State President Eric Barron.

The state appropriation includes general support appropriation to Penn State, as well as funding for Penn College, Penn State Hershey Medical Center and for Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension.

The state’s general support appropriation to Penn State amounts to about $214.1 million -- slightly more than $2,577 per student -- and represents funding that is used to reduce the cost of tuition for Pennsylvania residents. This amount is close to 1997 levels of state funding. In response to the decline in funding, Penn State has enacted more than $124 million in cuts to recurring costs in the last five years (and more than $320 million since 1992) through actions ranging from staff reductions to elimination or merger of academic programs.

These savings were designed to minimize the impact of budget reductions on Penn State students to ensure that Pennsylvanians from all walks of life have the opportunity to receive a world-class education. The Board of Trustees Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning on July 10 recommended a 2.73 aggregate base tuition increase for this year, the second-lowest increase since 1967 and among the lowest in public higher education nationwide. This spring, Penn State announced the success of its major fundraising campaign, whose largest component was scholarship support for students.

The cost-cutting initiatives implemented over the years have helped a Penn State education remain accessible while maintaining and improving the quality of its academic programs.

This year's budget maintains level funding of $11.8 million for the Penn State Hershey Medical Center and a $2 million increase for Pennsylvania College of Technology, for a total appropriation of $17.58 million. The additional funds will help to address instructional capacity concerns and other high priority needs. The budget also includes flat funding of $46.2 million for agricultural research and Cooperative Extension, and because these activities are not supplemented with tuition, appropriations increases are necessary to keep pace with the rising cost of providing critical research and support for Pennsylvania's principal industry. This year's level funding could mean a programmatic shortfall in the College of Agricultural Sciences of about $1.9 million, according preliminary estimates.

Trustee Mark Dambly announced at the July 10 meeting of the Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning that the committee has asked the University to "backstop the $1.9 million shortfall with one-year temporary funding" so as not to put the burden of making cuts onto an incoming dean. The University announced on July 2 that Richard Roush will be the new dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences effective Oct. 1.

The final 2014-15 Penn State budget is scheduled for presentation to the board for approval at its next meeting, scheduled for July 10-11 at Penn State Schuylkill, in Schuylkill Haven, Pa.

Last Updated July 10, 2014