Governor Wolf Calls For Tuition Freeze
If Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has his way, Penn State will have a little more money in its bank account soon, but with a major string attached: a tuition freeze.
In his budget speech to the state’s General Assembly, Wolf detailed his plan to increase education funding across the state, including appropriations for institutions of higher education.
“We are restoring 50 percent of the cuts to our state system of higher education,” Wolf said. “But those improvements come with a string attached. In return for these increases, today I am calling on our institutions of higher education to freeze tuition, and I expect them to answer that call.”
Just yesterday, reports of Wolf’s intention to increase the university’s state appropriation by $49 million surfaced, with the prospect of the governor restoring Penn State’s pre-Tom Corbett appropriations by next year. Corbett proposed to decrease the university’s take by 50 percent in 2011 — an action for which he was never able to completely recover, losing by 10 points in his reelection bid — which was scaled back considerably by Pennsylvania’s legislature. The university received a steady $214.1 million over the past three years from Corbett’s administration.
Penn State’s administration has repeatedly placed the blame entirely on Harrisburg and shrinking appropriations for its tuition woes. With state appropriations increasing imminently (the amount will depend on what can get through the legislature), administrators should have little reason to increase tuition for students other than their own inability to control costs. In 2013, the university said it cut $237.7 million from its operating budget over the last two decades in recurring costs.
Penn State’s appropriations are generally used to subsidize in-state tuition along with other programs like Penn State Outreach and its entrepreneurial efforts. In his proposal to Governor Wolf, Penn State President Eric Barron cited the university’s economic impact on the state along with its outreach across the commonwealth to advocate for increased funding.
We will update this post with Wolf’s specific proposal for the university when it becomes available.
Update (12:25 p.m.): Wolf appropriated $263.7 million for the university for an increase of 23 percent over last year’s appropriation by the state’s previous governor, Tom Corbett. Penn State will receive $49.62 million more under the proposed budget. The budget also estimates a state appropriation of $339.3 million from 2016 to 2019.
You can find Governor Wolf’s proposed budget below: