Penn State Asks Commonwealth for $19.6 Million Appropriation Increase
September 14, 2018 2:18 PM
by Geoff Rushton
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Penn State's Board of Trustees on Friday approved a nearly $7 billion 2019-20 budget plan that includes are request for a $19.6 million in appropriations from the Commonwealth.

The requested increase, if approved, would bring the Penn State's overall state appropriation to $347 million and would keep tuition increases for Pennsylvania undergraduates "as low as possible," according to the university.

Penn State received a 3 percent, or $6.9 million, increase in appropriation for the current fiscal year and subsequently froze base tuition rates for in-state students. Penn State President Eric Barron said that over the last 10 years Penn State ranks fifth among flagship universities nationwide for lowest tuition increases.

“We are hopeful for additional funding again this year from the Commonwealth, which is critical for Penn State to provide an in-state tuition rate for our more than 50,000 resident students," Barron said. "The Commonwealth’s investment in Penn State is an investment in our state’s communities and people, and together we have contributed immeasurably to the quality of life, economic development, agricultural productivity, and medical care in Pennsylvania.” 

Barron said tuition scenario proposals are still to be determined based on the appropriation and finalization of other aspects of the budget. For lower-division Pennsylvania undergraduates at University Park, base tuition is currently about $17,000

In each budget appropriation, Penn State is asking for a 6 percent increase.

The appropriation request includes $251.6 million for the education and general budget or 14.2 million over the current year. The funding offsets a portion of tuition costs for Pennsylvania students and also is used for access and affordability and economic development initiatives. If approved, the general appropriation would still be about $13 million short of its pre-2011 level, before Penn State and other institutions saw massive cuts under former Gov. Tom Corbett. Gov. Tom Wolf has since pledged to return Penn State to those pre-2011 levels.

An increase $1.4 million is requested for the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, bringing its appropriation to $24.1 million.

Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension would see a $3.2 million increase, bringing the total to $57.1 million. Barron said the increase would be used for inflationary costs and high-priority issues, including protecting agricultural industries against the invasive spotted lanternfly.

An $804,000 increase in state and federal medical assistance funding is requested for the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, which would bring its appropriation to $14.2 million.

Barron said the university is planning for expense increases in several areas, including a $32.9 million salary pool increase for faculty and staff; $19.9 million for facilities improvement and maintenance; $12 million for innovation and other strategic investments; and a $9.1 million increase for health insurance and retirement expenses. The increase in university funding for the State Employees Retirement System is not yet known.

Penn State also is currently in the first year of a $4.7 billion, five-year capital plan to repair and update aging infrastructure and facilities across the university.

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