Could it be too good to be true?
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett unveiled his proposed budget, which includes flat funding for state universities, on Tuesday.
Corbett’s budget proposal would give more than $1.6 billion to higher education programs, including $345 million to the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency to provide grants for students who need financial assistance.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson will appear at the state House Appropriations Committee on Feb. 25 and at the Senate Appropriations Committee on Feb. 28 to field questions and argue for an increase in state funding.
While this news was great for Penn State students, we’re wary about the reality of the 2013-14 budget that will be approved over the summer. We encourage Corbett to follow through with his plan that neither cuts nor increases funding for higher education.
This proposed budget was surprising because Corbett’s track record has not been stellar when it comes to investing in higher education. In 2011 a 50 percent funding cut was proposed and a 30 percent cut was proposed in 2012.
It’s fantastic that Corbett is allocating 40 percent of the budget in education — 33.6 percent is allotted to preK-12 and 6.4 percent is dedicated to higher education. Higher education is a good investment for the future. Schooling beyond high school should not be out of reach for anyone, regardless of your financial situation.
Keeping tuition affordable is a two-way street, and Corbett has at least proposed to preserve a consistent level of funding. It is up to the Board of Trustees, which determines tuition each year, to keep costs down for students, too.
The trustees and the university need to better balance keeping the university a world-class institution with keeping it affordable. Though last year saw the lowest tuition increase in 40 years, there is still a lot of room for improvement.
According to date released by the U.S. Department of Education in June, students at Penn State pay the highest tuition bill in the country among four-year public colleges. Tuition is about $15,000 per year at Penn State while the national average among four-year public colleges is about $6,000, according to the same statistics.
Penn State needs to take a closer look at how money is spent internally. The money spent on the arc in South Halls may not seem like a big deal but money adds up on unnecessary projects.