Governor Rendell proposed a funding increase for the 14 PASSHE schools last Tuesday in an effort to keep tuition costs down as prices are expected to rise in the 2008-2009 school year. Each year the state appropriation covers roughly one-third of the operating cost of each of the 14 universities, with student tuition covering the remaining two-thirds of operating costs. Costs are expected to increase by 3.6 percent next year, a total of about $46.9 million, most of which is due to employee salary and benefit increases. Rendell’s proposed increase totals at $518.8 million.
Tuition has increased by a total of $799 since the 2002-2003 school year for PASSHE universities, while schools such as Penn State and Pitt have increased by over $4,000, according to PASSHE. Board of Governors Chairman for PASSHE Kenneth Jarin said, “We are extremely grateful both to Governor Rendell and to the General Assembly for their continuing support of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.”
According to PASSHE, on top of the proposed $518.8 million, schools could receive and additional $20.3 million for special programs. Rendell’s proposal may have been prompted by PASSHE’s request for $508.2 million in October. While the governor’s proposal asks for more money than requested by PASSHE, the spending plan may not be approved by the state legislature.
As university costs increase, the PASSHE system may turn to what it refers to as “strategic sourcing,” an effort to get better prices on “services, supplies, and equipment,” through the purchasing appeal of all 14 state universities.
All told, the governor’s request would increase PASSHE’s annual operating budget to $1.37 billion. The state system is made up of roughly 110,000 students throughout the 14 universities. According to PASSHE, tuition costs have been kept to the rate of inflation each year in the past three years.
The increased appropriation may serve to satisfy state professors who threatened to strike at the end of the spring 2007 semester over wages and benefits as most of the increased budget would go towards increased employee wages. With the goal of meeting rising costs and keeping student tuition costs down, PASSHE hopes to remain the most affordable and viable option in Pennsylvania for students concerned with a quality education on a budget.
Shane Madden is a fourth-year student majoring in history with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.