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July 7, 2011

State cuts Pitt funds nearly 22 percent

Pitt is losing more than $40 million in state support this year through cuts to the University’s appropriation and a decrease in academic medical center funding.

Lawmakers in Harrisburg cut nearly $32 million from Pitt’s fiscal year 2012 appropriation, a decrease of 19 percent from the $168 million Pitt received in FY2011.

The University’s general appropriation of nearly $136.1 million for the fiscal year that began July 1 includes $134 million in general funding and $2.08 million for rural education outreach.

In addition, funding for Pitt’s medical school was halved, decreasing from approximately $16.9 million last year to $8.4 million this year, according to Charles McLaughlin, director for Commonwealth Relations.

Combined, the budget reductions represent an overall cut in state support of nearly 22 percent, he said.

John Fedele, Pitt associate director of News, said the decrease is the largest cut in memory for the University.

However, the cuts were not as deep as they could have been. In his initial state budget proposal, Gov. Tom Corbett proposed eliminating funding for the medical school and cutting Pitt’s appropriation in half.

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg responded to the budget news last week in a prepared statement. “Everyone who is a part of the Pitt community, or who depends on the important work being done on all five of our campuses, must be pleased that the cuts initially proposed for our appropriation have been substantially reduced.  We are particularly grateful to the members of the legislature who emerged as such strong supporters,” he said.

“At the same time, we face the stark reality that the remaining cuts are both deep and disproportionate. The state budget as a whole calls for total spending that is about 4 percent less. … Reductions to state investments in Pitt, in contrast, are nearly 22 percent.”


The impact on Pitt employees and students remains to be seen.

Pitt’s Board of Trustees budget and executive committees are expected to set the University budget, including salary pool and tuition rates, at their July 8 meeting.

The State System of Higher Education last week announced a 7.5 percent tuition increase in the wake of an 18 percent cut in state funding. In-state tuition at the 14 state system schools will climb to $6,240, a $436 increase, for the upcoming academic year.

Temple University was the first of the state-related universities to set tuition for the fall term, announcing last week that in-state tuition will increase nearly 10 percent, to $13,006.

Penn State president Graham Spanier, in a message to university faculty and staff, said his administration would ask the Penn State board to approve an FY12 budget that includes “modest tuition increases” at its July 15 meeting. Penn State saw a $68 million cut in its appropriation, a decrease of 19.6 percent.

Tuition at Pennsylvania’s state-related universities already is among the highest in the nation.

Pitt ranked No. 2 on a U.S. Department of Education list (see of the nation’s most expensive public four-year institutions.

The Pittsburgh campus’s $14,154 average tuition for in-state students in 2009-10 was more than double the national average of $6,397 and second only to Penn State’s, which averaged $14,416. In-state tuition at state-related Temple University is $12,424 and Lincoln University charges $8,472.

Pitt-Titusville topped the list of highest-tuition public two-year schools at $10,430, roughly four times the national average of $2,527.

Cuts to the state appropriation disproportionately affect the education and general (E&G) budget because many other sources of revenue, such as research grants or designated gifts, must be used for their designated purposes, not to fill other budget gaps.

Tuition dollars and the state appropriation are the two unrestricted sources of revenue to fund employee salaries.

When the governor initially proposed even deeper cuts to state support for higher education, university leaders said that the resulting budget gaps could not be filled through tuition increases alone.

In his July 1 statement, Nordenberg said that the state funding cuts, “particularly following a decade of declining state support, obviously will subject the University to significant financial stresses. Among our most fundamental challenges will be to maintain high levels of access for students of modest means through tuition rates that are as competitive as possible and through further investments in our programs of financial aid; to provide appropriate levels of support to high-performing members of our faculty and staff, and to continue investing in the programmatic excellence that has come to distinguish Pitt. As we work to fashion a budget that deals with these dramatic reductions in state support, we will be mindful of these sometimes competing needs and will seek to strike a balance that positions Pitt to maintain its remarkable record of accomplishment and impact in educating its talented and committed students, advancing the work of its remarkable faculty and staff, and continuing to play what has become an increasingly critical role in contributing to the strength and growth of the regional economy.”

Click on “Chancellor Nordenberg” at to view his full statement.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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