Yesterday, the Auditor General released findings related to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) in a performance audit. Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, APSCUF President, is issuing the following response:
“During yesterday’s press conference, Auditor General DePasquale began by stating that the Commonwealth contributes only 28% of the cost for a student to attend a public university in Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth currently funds the state system at the same level it did in 1997-98.
“The Auditor General is absolutely correct that the State System needs the Governor and the General Assembly to allocate additional funds to stem the tide of rising tuition and overwhelming student debt. Governor Wolf’s budget is a step in the right direction. His two-year plan to fully restore funding to the State System correctly prioritizes public higher education and works to secure the future of Pennsylvania’s working families.
“In 2011, Governor Corbett cut the State System budget by 18 percent or $90 million dollars. Since then, with no additional funding, the State System has eliminated 270 full-time faculty positions and discontinued over 150 academic programs. Because the budget could not be balanced on cuts alone, the Board of Governors raised tuition in an effort to survive the drastic cut.
“A recent economic impact study concluded that for every $1 spent on the State System, $11 returns to the Commonwealth. Over 90 percent of our students are residents of the Commonwealth, and 80 percent of our graduates remain in Pennsylvania and contribute to its economy. All Pennsylvanians benefit when we properly invest in our state-owned universities.
“Our professors and coaches hope that the General Assembly will work with Governor Wolf to ensure a strong path to full restoration so that our current and future students will have access to high-quality public higher education at an affordable cost.”