State budget passes; University sees increased funding

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Pennsylvania’s legislature today (July 13) has passed, and Gov. Tom Wolf has signed, the final pieces of the Commonwealth’s 2016-17 budget. The budget includes increases of 2.5 percent for Penn State’s general support appropriation; the University’s Agricultural Research and Extension programs; and Pennsylvania College of Technology. The passage of the budget is a welcome development for University leaders following last year’s extended budget stalemate.

Each year, state appropriations are used to lower Penn State tuition for Pennsylvania resident students; support Agricultural Research and Extension operations that have a profound impact on one of the Commonwealth’s largest industries; and provide critical funding for Pennsylvania College of Technology and the Penn State Hershey Medical Center, all in support of Penn State’s land-grant mission to benefit the citizens of Pennsylvania.

“We thank the legislature and governor for their efforts to pass a budget that includes additional support for Penn State and Pennsylvania’s other public institutions of higher education. We particularly thank Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and the entire leadership of the General Assembly for their efforts to increase our appropriation, even in the face of ongoing revenue challenges,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “The legislature’s continued and increased investment will aid in our efforts to provide access to a world-class education for all qualified Pennsylvanians. We look forward to the continued strengthening of our 150-year partnership with the Commonwealth in the years ahead, for the benefit of Pennsylvania’s workforce and economy.”

Barron said the increased general support will help ensure only a very modest rise in tuition for in-state undergraduate students for the 2016-17 academic year, and said additional funding for Agricultural Research and Extension will ensure continued operation of critical services to the agriculture industry in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.

The budget marks the second increase in Penn State’s general support appropriation since 2008, and follows 2011’s across-the-board cuts in funding to higher education in Pennsylvania. Wolf has said restoration of those cuts is a priority for his administration. In Penn State’s case, a full restoration to 2011 levels would return the University’s general funds appropriation to $264.3 million.

In addition to $230.4 million in support for Penn State’s general support appropriation, the Commonwealth’s 2016-17 budget also includes:

  • A $490,000 increase for Pennsylvania College of Technology (a wholly owned subsidiary of Penn State) to $20 million.
  • A $1.26 million increase for Penn State Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension, to $51.8 million. 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.
  • $13.4 million in support for Penn State Hershey Medical Center. This includes $1 million in additional funding for the Penn State College of Medicine regional campus at University Park.

Penn State has enacted more than $360 million in cuts to recurring costs since 1992, including $34.4 million in budget reductions and estimate adjustments in 2015-16’s budget alone. These major initiatives have helped defray costs to students while maintaining and improving the quality of Penn State’s academic programs.

The University continues to focus on a holistic approach to controlling the cost of a degree as part of the Plan4 Penn State initiative, enacting new programs that focus on student retention, decreasing the rate of student borrowing, and providing the necessary resources to ensure every student’s timely graduation.

In addition, Barron said he will continue to converse with the governor and legislature about funding in future years for the Invent Penn State initiative. The program, introduced by Barron in January 2015, is envisioned as a way to leverage the University’s size and broad research strengths to drive entrepreneurship, job creation, economic development and student career success. The effort now includes 13 hubs for innovation across the Commonwealth.

The proposed 2016-17 Penn State budget and tuition schedules will be presented to the Penn State Board of Trustees for consideration at the body’s next meeting, scheduled for July 21-22 at Penn State Wilkes-Barre in Lehman, Pennsylvania.

Last Updated July 14, 2016