The presidents at Penn State, Pitt and Temple are looking to the state to make it possible for them to announce a tuition freeze for their students for next year.
All three leaders said that was their desired goal in arriving at the amount of state funding their schools were requesting for 2019-20.
At Lincoln University, the other state-related institution in Pennsylvania, receiving the money it seeks from the state would enable it to discount the tuition for more in-state students as well as increase its faculty and staff to serve its growing student enrollment.
Combined, these four universities are looking to lawmakers to find a total of nearly $600 million in the state’s general fund budget to support their operations.
All of heads of these state-related institutions shared in their testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday a recognition of the role that tuition plays in the rising levels of loan debt their students are amassing.
But they also made it clear that there is a correlation between Pennsylvania having the nation’s first or second highest average student debtload and the state funding their institutions have received so far this century.
“Right now, the appropriations for Penn State are right about what it was in 2000,” said university President Eric Barron. “I could drop tuition by 15 percent if [state funding] just kept up with inflation over that period of time.”