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State colleges receive increase from state budget

Alyssa Pressler
  • Gov. Wolf signed into law the non-preferred appropriations act on Wednesday night.
  • The general support appropriation is only received by four colleges in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania's four state-related colleges received a 2.5 percent increase in state funding Wednesday night when Gov. Tom Wolf signed the non-preferred appropriations act.

Students, from left, Emily Good, of Mount Wolf, and Gage Stascak and Bailey MacDonald, both of Conewago Township, take a break between classes on the Penn State York campus  Thursday, July 14, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The schools benefiting from the increase are Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and Lincoln University. Their funding is separate from the General Fund budget because they are state-related schools, not state-owned schools. A higher number of votes is required to give money to entities not owned by the state, explained Jeff Sheridan, Wolf's press secretary.

The 2.5 percent increase will mean that each school will get a little extra money to help offset the cost of tuition for students.

Lisa Powers, director of the Office of Strategic Communications at Penn State, explained that the non-preferred appropriations act is how universities like Penn State set their tuition each year. The formula is essentially the cost of academic programs subtracted from the state appropriation, which ends up being the tuition.

"In Penn State's case, state support is critical to setting tuition since it is a large part of the income formula for our general education budget," Powers explained.

Last year, because of the state budget impasse, many colleges had to set their tuition without knowing what they would receive as an appropriation from the state. Ray Betzner, a university spokesmen for Temple University, said the university did the same thing this year; the Temple University Board of Trustees announced a 2.8 percent increase in tuition on Tuesday. The tuition was discussed and passed with the anticipation that the 2.5 percent increase from the state would eventually pass.

Tuition for Pennsylvania residents is now $15,284 and $26,286 for out-of-state students. Betzner said the money received from the state allows Pennsylvania residents to benefit from the discounted tuition. During the impasse last year, Betzner said, the university had to take out loans to help offset the lack of appropriations from the state budget.

"This is tremendous news for everyone, especially for our students," Betzner said. "What it means is we can now plan to budget for the entire year with confidence."

Powers said the state appropriations do the same for Penn State, allowing a lower tuition for in-state students.

With other schools, such as the University of Pittsburgh, which will be setting its tuition in the coming weeks, the increase in appropriations from the state could factor into the trustees' decision. Joe Miksch, the interim director of university news, said the University of Pittsburgh is expected to set tuition on July 18.

In a news release, Penn State President Eric Barron said the increase also will help ensure "only a very modest rise in tuition for in-state undergraduate students for the 2016-17 academic year." The Penn State budget and tuition schedules will be considered by the Board of Trustees on July 21 and 22.

Below is the amount of state appropriations that schools will receive for the 2016-17 academic year.

Pennsylvania State University: $250,510,000

University of Pittsburgh: $146,773,000

Temple University: $150,586,000

Lincoln University: $14,436,000