June 24, 2011

For further information contact Kevin Kodish at 800-932-0587, ext. 3020

HARRISBURG – The president of the association representing 6,000 faculty members and coaches at Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities today expressed his deep concern for the current and future students of the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) who will experience the devastating impact of significant state budget cuts.

News reports indicate that the current budget agreement includes an 18 percent cut to the Commonwealth’s universities – $15 million less than PASSHE received in the version of the budget that passed the House of Representatives in May.

“The news coming out of the state legislature will devastate our universities,” State APSCUF President Dr. Steve Hicks said. “The previously proposed 15 percent cut was already a major blow to our institutions. The 18 percent reduction is a $90.6 million loss for our universities, which means our students will likely pay higher tuition rates and at the same time, programs will be cut, class sizes will increase, and faculty and staff will be laid off.”

“Over 120,000 students and their families depend on PASSHE universities to provide a high quality education at a reasonable cost,” Hicks stated. “An 18 percent cut in the state appropriation translates to a tuition hike that could be as high as 10 percent – almost $600 a year. The majority of our students are the first in their families to go to college, and many will not be able to afford a significant tuition increase.”

“The state budget should not be balanced on the backs of Pennsylvania’s working families, especially at a time when the state has a $600 million surplus. Those additional dollars should have been used to achieve a budget that sustains all of the services working Pennsylvanians deserve.”

Over 90 percent of PASSHE students are state residents, and 80 percent remain in the Commonwealth after graduation, contributing to the state’s economic vitality.

“We are disappointed that the state has not maintained its commitment to its universities, students and their families. Further cuts will eventually be a drag on the economy. Repeated state cuts and low tuition has already led to fewer educational opportunities, cramped classes, and faculty layoffs. State spending per student has declined over $2,000 in recent years, and university efficiency is at its maximum. Pennsylvania’s future depends on its continued commitment to public higher education,” Hicks said.