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July 6, 1995

Governor signs Pitt's FY96 appropriation

For the fiscal year that began July 1, Pitt will get no increase in its current $144.4 million state appropriation, but the University will receive about $3.25 million in additional state money through Pennsylvania's Tuition Challenge Grants Program.

Gov. Tom Ridge and the General Assembly approved the funding last week. The House approved Pitt's appropriation bill 198-3, the Senate by a 49-0 vote.

Now that the state funding is set, the Board of Trustees can approve a budget for FY 1995-96. The executive committee is expected to do so at a public meeting July 27.

The trustees already have approved 4.5 percent tuition increases for virtually all Pitt students. University administrators have said that faculty and staff salary raises, if there are any, will not take effect until January.

Pitt's state appropriation will be distributed among the following line items:

* Education and general funding — $127,706,000.

* School of Medicine — $6,239,000.

* Dental clinic — $1,030,000.

* Disadvantaged students — $321,000.

* Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic — $7,693,000.

* Services for Teens at Risk — $497,000.

* Center for Public Health Practice — $250,000.

* Rural education outreach — $300,000.

Gov. Ridge, in his original budget proposal, recommended doing away with line items and allowing universities to choose how to distribute their appropriations. But the idea received little support from the General Assembly and the governor's office did not push for it, said Ann Dykstra, Pitt Commonwealth Relations director.

The General Assembly also increased the amount of the Tuition Challenge Grant fund to $24,161,000, $9 million more than Ridge had proposed. The money will be distributed among the four state-related universities (Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln) and the State System of Higher Education as a reward for limiting their tuition increases to 4.5 percent this fall.

Besides increasing the pot of Tuition Challenge Grant money, the General Assembly altered the distribution formula so schools receive funds based on their enrollments of full-time-equivalent students who are Pennsylvania residents. Last year's formula (and the one Ridge proposed for this year) was based on headcount enrollments of full-time, resident students — not taking into account part-time students.

Pitt officials had long argued that the program was unfair to urban research universities, which enroll larger proportions of part-timers than other state-funded universities do.

— Bruce Steele

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