By DONOVAN HARRELL
As a part of the University’s new policymaking process, Pitt’s Office of Policy Development and Management is setting out to formalize a set of guidelines already in practice for reduced tuition eligibility for in-state and out-of-state students. But a draft of the policy could face some hurdles before it makes it past the Senate Council’s Student Admissions, Aid and Affairs Committee.
In a committee meeting on Sept. 16, Office of Policy Development and Management representative Anthony Graham and Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Financial Services Beth Stack presented their proposed changes to the draft Pennsylvania Residency Classification: Eligibility for Reduced Tuition Rates.
The policy formalizes several criteria that are already in practice at Pitt to determine state citizenship for tuition purposes. In order to be classified as a Pennsylvania resident, a student has to live in the state for a 12-month period prior to enrollment.
Graham said this draft policy has been in the works since before Pitt’s former chief financial officer Arthur Ramicone left in August 2018. Now that Pitt’s policy process has changed with the new Office of Policy Development and Management, the residency policy is one of the first that the office is working on.
Stack said the draft policy is very similar to language Penn State and Temple University have used, all based on the same state legislation.
Committee members had some concerns with the policy, including gendered language in certain paragraphs to concerns over out-of-state graduate students being charged increased tuition.
One member said that Pitt’s current higher tuition fees for out-of-state graduate students could hurt the University’s ability to recruit competitive students.
Stack said there are measures in place to offset those costs to the point where out-of-state grad students are paying the same or similar fees to in-state graduate students.
One of those solutions is Pitt’s generous financial aid to the out-of-state graduate students, Stack said.
“We’re not the wall, we’re the net,” Stack said. “We're trying to make sure that we understand their circumstances.”
In addition, there’s an accessible appeal process for graduate students interested in tuition waivers, Stack said. The provost’s office also sends scholarships to departments to offset out-of-state graduate student fees.
Later in the meeting, College of General Studies student representative Selena Eisenberg pointed out a paragraph of the draft policy focused on veterans. The paragraph, Eisenberg said, was odd since none of the other paragraphs in the draft used gendered pronouns. She suggested that it be changed so that it was more in line with the rest of the draft.
Stack explained that that policy was modeled after a Pennsylvania charter and that the University would have to be extremely careful with adjusting it.
Before the meeting concluded, Graham asked the members to vote on whether the policy would move onto Faculty Assembly with no major changes. Each member declined to support it without additional comments and changes. Graham said he will take it back to his office for adjustments before bringing it again.
Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at email@example.com or 412-383-9905.
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