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June 8, 1995

Tuition expected to go up 4.5%

A 4.5 percent tuition increase for nearly all Pitt students is expected to be approved this month by the Board of Trustees.

The board's budget committee endorsed the 4.5 percent hike at a May 31 meeting. Pitt senior administrators and the University Planning and Budgeting Committee (UPBC) also support the increase.

The increase would raise two-term tuition to $5,184 (an additional $222 over the current tuition) for most full-time, in-state students. Most full-time, out-of-state students would pay $11,270, an increase of $484.

Originally, the University had been planning on a 3.5 percent tuition hike for next fall. As recently as April, Chancellor J. Dennis O'Connor said he would recommend that the Board of Trustees raise tuition by no more than 3.5 percent, even though Gov. Tom Ridge's proposed 1995-96 budget would leave Pitt with an $8 million shortfall.

But since then, Pitt has frozen employee salaries and hiring and has begun re-evaluating its schedule of construction projects, among other cost-cutting moves.

Raising tuition by another 1 percent should generate an additional $1.8 million during the next fiscal year, said Joseph Gil, interim associate vice chancellor for Budget and Administration.

The decision to raise tuition by another 1 percent was "agonizing," Gill said, and was made with the knowledge that Pitt risks driving away students with its continuing tuition increases. Tuition here has risen by 87 percent during the last decade. Last fall, Pitt enrollment dropped unexpectedly by 840 full-time students, a 3.7 percent decline from the previous year.

In recommending the 4.5 percent tuition hike for approval at the Board of Trustees' June 22 meeting, the trustees budget committee added a proviso that the tuition increase could be reduced if the legislature approves more money for Pitt than Gov. Ridge is proposing.

Ridge's budget offers no direct funding increases for Pitt and Pennsylvania's other state-supported universities. Instead, Ridge recommends raising the schools' appropriations by 3 percent, with increases split between student grants and the Tuition Challenge Grants Program. The program gives money to schools that hold tuition increases to 4.5 percent or less.

Pitt has asked for a 6 percent increase in its state appropriation.

Under the plan endorsed by the trustees budget committee, exceptions to the 4.5 percent tuition increase at Pitt would be the medical school, where tuition would rise by 3.5 percent, and the engineering school.

Tuition for full-time, undergraduate engineering students, both in-state and non-Pennsylvanians, would not increase; it would remain at $6,316 and $14,148, respectively. For part-time, graduate engineering students, tuition would increase by 18.6 percent for in-state students and 11.9 percent for non-Pennsylvanians. The two double-digit increases would result from a 4.5 percent tuition increase coupled with a $55 increase that already had been planned for part-time, graduate engineering students.

According to Gil, the decisions to limit tuition hikes in medicine and engineering were largely driven by the need for Pitt's schools to remain competitive with other medical and engineering schools. Gil noted that the great majority of Pitt part-time engineering students have their tuition paid by their employers.

— Bruce Steele

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