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January 7, 2016

Despite lack of appropriation, trustees approve Pitt budget

University trustees on Dec. 18 moved forward with a budget plan for fiscal year 2016, basing a $2.01 billion operating budget on last year’s appropriation of approximately $147.39 million.

The state budget impasse, which has stalled a decision on Pitt’s state appropriation for the fiscal year that began July 1, had delayed the University budget.  However, on recommendation of the chief financial officer (CFO), the board’s budget and executive committees met Dec. 18 to set Pitt’s FY16 budget.

The budget’s $2.07 billion in total revenues includes net tuition and fees totaling $601.4 million, an increase of 3.8 percent over FY15’s budgeted $579.18 million.

Budgeted expenses include $1.81 billion in total compensation, up 4.4 percent over FY15’s $1.13 billion compensation line. Although a salary pool increase has yet to be announced, the University is budgeting $905.54 million for salaries and wages, an increase of 3.2 percent over the $877.17 million in the FY15 budget. Fringe benefits, the other component in the total compensation line item, are budgeted at $276.45 million, up 8.16 percent from $255.6 million in FY15.

If Pitt’s funding is increased when a state budget is settled, the committees will take action on an amended budget “reflective of the final appropriation amount and the University’s strategic priorities,” according to trustees’ background documents.

The state budget impasse not only has kept Pitt from receiving its expected appropriation, which arrives in monthly increments, but has held up students’ Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) grants.

Although experience has prompted the University to plan for state budget delays — in some cases Pitt hasn’t received its funding until February, said senior vice chancellor and CFO Arthur G. Ramicone — the impasse is eating into Pitt’s cash reserves. “It’s putting at risk our ability to control tuition in the future, the longer this goes on, because we’re spending our reserves,” he said.

For the fiscal year that started July 1, the University would have received some $65 million in appropriation dollars by December, Ramicone said.

Pitt credited students for $10 million in expected PHEAA grants for the fall term, and is fronting another $10 million on students’ spring term bills.

“If we don’t apply it to students’ accounts they have a big hole, and where are they going to get it?” he said.

—Kimberly K. Barlow 

Filed under: Feature,Volume 48 Issue 9

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