Dear Pitt Community:
You may have noticed the recent news stories covering Harrisburg’s budget impasse, and the devastating impact that this impasse could have on Pitt and the other state-related universities. One local example is a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial, which issued a warning to the Commonwealth: Don’t Dare Defund Pitt.
Why all the new coverage? The short answer is that we are now veering toward a dangerous situation. While there was strong bipartisan support for the state spending plan, enacted this July, there has been no agreement on the revenue plan and therefore no pathway to pass the appropriation bills that fund Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities—Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln. Since our University budget expects nearly $150 million from the state, we may face a critical shortfall.
Pitt is funded through a variety of mechanisms, including: tuition and fees, federal research grants, investment income, sales, and generous donors. State funding—which has been an essential part of our budget since 1967—plays a special role. State funds enable us to lower the cost of in-state tuition by about $11,000 per student. Without this support, thousands of students from Pennsylvania would see tuition rates rise at Pitt and other flagship institutions.
When our Board of Trustees approved our University budget and tuition rates this summer, we assumed that we would receive full funding from the state. Amid budget delays and ongoing debate, we did not want to pass Harrisburg’s uncertainty along to our students and their families. However, with our first semester approaching the mid-way point—and no state revenue plan in place—we may be forced to assume that no state funding is forthcoming and amend our University’s budget accordingly.
Obviously, this is not a situation that we want to see happen. Pitt is a vital engine of growth and opportunity and one of the best investments that Harrisburg can make in our state’s future. Pennsylvanians who have benefited from a more affordable Pitt education, thanks to state support, are some of the Commonwealth’s greatest assets.
Legislators return to Harrisburg on Monday, Oct. 16. This is a critical window for legislative action. That’s why we are calling on all members of the Pitt community to take a stand by letting your lawmakers know that Pennsylvania cannot afford to let our state-related universities be abandoned.