On Penn State’s ‘Historic’ Budget Cut

by Thomas A. Shakely

Penn State president Graham Spanier has been engaging in hard core histrionics in response to Gov. Tom Corbett’s state budget proposal, which would reduce taxpayer appropriations by 53 percent.

“Abraham Lincoln is weeping today,” declared Spanier in a press conference earlier this month, warning the cuts would be “historic” and would push tuition costs higher, and the university toward privitization. But Penn State’s total budget amounts to more than $3.5 billion, and Governor Corbett’s proposed cuts would result in a funding cut of $153 million. 

While Penn State is a rather unique example — state appropriations account for only about 10 percent of its budget, and tuition at the school is the highest in the nation among public colleges — Governor Corbett’s proposal would force the school to reduce its spending by less than 4 percent, assuming it wanted to avoid tuition hikes.

This is something of complex issue, but it’s one playing out in different ways across the country as public colleges that have annually raised rates far beyond the rate of inflation are now facing both declining enrollment and decreased state and federal funding. What then, to do?

In this week’s episode of InsideAcademia.tv, host Andy Nash speaks with Charles Mitchell of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Foundation on “The False Choice of More Public Money vs. Higher Tuition Bills.” Mr. Mitchell is illuminating on the subject, and does much to debunk the notion that lowering public subsidies makes tuition hikes inevitable.

You can subscribe to InsideAcademia.tv on YouTube to receive each new episode.

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