Pa. finally approves appropriation

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Penn State’s 2017-18 non-preferred appropriations bill Oct. 25, after a delay of more than three months.

As proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf in February, the bill includes level funding of $230.4 million for Penn State’s general support appropriation.

The bill also includes increases of $2 million for Pennsylvania College of Technology and $500,000 for Penn State Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension, for a total appropriation of $318.2 million.

The passage of the budget means there will not be a need for a mid-year tuition surcharge, an action that had previously been under consideration during the impasse.

Not only does Penn State’s appropriation help offset the cost of tuition for resident students, but state funding also supports Agricultural Research and Extension operations that have a significant impact on the Commonwealth’s agriculture industry and economy, and provides funding for Penn College and for Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center — all critical to Penn State’s land-grant mission.

“We are deeply appreciative of the nearly 10,000 Penn State supporters who took the time to contact their legislators in support of the university,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “Their support was crucial in communicating the value and importance of state funding to our elected leaders in Harrisburg.”

Boost for Extension

In addition to $230.4 million for Penn State’s general support appropriation, the General Assembly also approved a $500,000 increase for Penn State Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension, for a total of $52.3 million.

Because these activities are not supplemented with tuition, appropriations increases are necessary to keep pace with the rising cost of providing research and support services to the agriculture industry in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.

Tuition increase

The Penn State Board of Trustees in July approved the university’s 2017-18 operating budget, which included an aggregate tuition increase of 2.45 percent for Pennsylvania resident students. This year’s resident tuition increase was among the lowest at the university in 50 years and included no tuition increase for Pennsylvania students at eight Penn State Commonwealth Campuses for the third consecutive year.

This follows action in 2015 to freeze base tuition for all resident undergraduates and 2016’s 1.76 percent aggregate resident tuition increase.

In an effort to monitor and control costs over the past several decades, Penn State has enacted nearly $404 million in cuts to recurring costs since 1992, including $21 million in cuts in the 2017-18 operating budget alone.

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