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July 23, 2009

Most tuition raised 4%, additional increase possible

University leaders have approved a 4 percent increase in tuition for most in-state students on the Pittsburgh campus and a 2.5 percent increase for their out-of-state counterparts. However, in light of uncertainty about state funding levels, administrators wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a tuition surcharge that Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg said could be imminent.

“It’s conceivable that it could take effect in the fall depending on how quickly the budget is put to rest in Harrisburg and how we’re treated in the budget,” he said following the July 16 meeting of the trustees budget and executive committees, which approved tuition rates for 2009-10.

Tuition on Pitt’s Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown and Titusville campuses remains frozen, as the University announced in April, but the 4 percent increase in in-state tuition will apply to graduate and undergraduate students on the Pittsburgh campus, with the exception of students in the School of Medicine.

In-state undergraduates in the School of Arts and Sciences (A&S) will see a $512 increase, with two-term tuition rates rising from $12,832 to $13,344. Out-of-state A&S students will see a 2.5 percent increase, with tuition rising from $22,480 to $23,042, an increase of $562.

Concurrently, Pitt has in-creased its financial aid by comparable percentages.

In his June 16 remarks to the trustees budget and executive committees, Nordenberg said the University had two choices in setting tuition, given the state budget impasse and uncertainty about the amount of Pitt’s state appropriation: “Either impose much higher than desirable tuition increases now with the possibility of a later rollback, or effect smaller tuition increases today with the express recognition that significant additional increases could be needed later if our funding is not restored.”

Arthur G. Ramicone, vice chancellor for budget and controller, stated in a prepared release, “After today’s announced tuition increases, there is the potential of a $31 million budget gap that would have to be addressed with other actions if commonwealth funding were to remain at the most recently proposed level. Once we know the funding level we will receive from the state and whether we will receive Stimulus Act funding, we may be forced to levy a tuition surcharge to help cover the shortfall from our originally proposed FY 2010 appropriation.”

Following the meeting, Nordenberg said the University’s intent has been to “do everything we can to limit the new burdens imposed on our students and their families during these difficult times. We’ve made that a priority in the actions that we’ve taken today, but we’ve also been realistic in saying that unless additional support is forthcoming from the state we’ll have no choice but to revisit that decision.”

Reiterating that the University is seeking the restoration of the proposed $31 million in funding cuts, Nordenberg said, “We have specifically left flexibility within the resolution because we don’t know how the process of negotiation in Harrisburg is going to unfold and we really can’t anticipate all of the different results that might come out of that.”

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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