The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

July 17, 2013

Pitt OKs tuition increases

Sean Sauro

JOHNSTOWN — Tuition will rise for students at Pitt-Johnstown, two other branch campuses and the main campus under a $1.94 billion operating budget approved Wednesday by the University of Pittsburgh board of trustees.

Tuition rates at Pitt-Johnstown and the Bradford and Greensburg campuses will increase 2 percent for in-state and out-of-state students beginning in the fall.

The increase amounts to about $119 more per semester for in-state students enrolled in arts and sciences programs at the three branch campuses, according to a news release. Tuition will remain the same at Pitt’s fourth branch in Titusville.

Main campus in-state students will pay about $225 more per semester, and out-of-state students will pay nearly $413 more per semester.

Those enrolled in medical school will see their tuition rise 5 percent.

Tuition increases were necessary partly because of a lack in state funding, Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg said.

“Maintaining low tuition levels while continuing to invest in quality has been a particular challenge as public support for higher education has decreased,” Nordenberg said, adding that the university is grateful for the help it receives.

“However … in nominal dollars unadjusted for inflation, (we remain) at levels of funding we received in the mid-1990s,” he said. “Since then, essentially all of our costs have increased, and the university also has grown.”

Though Nordenberg said tuition increases were necessary to keep university programs running as efficiently as possible, he noted that the percentage of the increases is less than on average.

“The tuition increases approved as part of this budget are among the lowest in our history,” Nordenberg said.

Pitt representative Cara Masset said there was a tuition freeze in 1975, a year that marked the university’s highest level of state support.

“It represented 32.1 percent of the total budget,” Masset said.

“In fiscal year 2014, the commonwealth appropriation will be approximately 7.5 percent of the university’s $1.94 billion operating budget.”

Tuition rose 3 percent last year at Pitt’s main campus, making this year’s 3.25 percent increase the second-lowest since the freeze in 1975.

Pitt-Johnstown students also saw a

2 percent increase in tuition last year, raising the cost for full-time undergraduates to $11,970 from $11,736 the previous year.

With the coming increase, the average annual tuition cost for in-state students will be about $13,500 at Pitt-Johns­town. The average annual cost for out-of-state students will be about $25,300.

Pitt-Johnstown spokesman Robert Knipple applauded the university board for a seemingly minimal increase.

“Given the potential for a much higher rate, we are thankful for this modest increase,” he said. “I think it really speaks to Pitt’s commitment to helping our students and parents afford a college education.”

Knipple said the additional funds will allow the university to add programs and improve the quality of education.

“I think it’s worth pointing out that at Pitt-Johnstown we are continuing to enhance the educational experience through new programs, including justice administration and criminology and special education,” he said. “We are committed to providing our students with a Pitt-quality education with world-class standards of academic excellence.”

University CEO Arthur Ramicone said this year’s budget also allows for a 2.5 percent pool for salary increases. A salary freeze has been in place since 2010, according to the news release.

“This year’s modest salary-increase pool, crafted in times that continue to be very challenging, reinforces the fact that our people are a high priority,” Ramicone said.

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