Leaders in Harrisburg have overwhelmingly agreed upon—but not enacted—funding for Pitt and our fellow state-related universities. Despite its inclusion in the spending bill that passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities and became law in July, and individual passage in the Senate, Pitt’s funding remains at risk until the House, Senate and Governor agree on a revenue plan and the House passes Pitt’s appropriation bill.
Producing a balanced budget for the Commonwealth is a difficult and complex process. Here are a few of the more commonly asked questions about the process and Pitt's relationship to it.
- What is a "state-related" university?
- How much funding does Pitt get from the Commonwealth?
- Didn't the Pennsylvania budget pass already?
- Why are state-related universities considered “non-preferred” appropriations?
- Can’t Pitt just draw on its endowment for funding?
- How can I help?
- Who do I ask for more information?
State-related institutions of higher education are unique to Pennsylvania. In exchange for receiving an appropriation from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh provides a tuition discount (about $11,000) to Pennsylvania students, maintains 12 seats on our Board of Trustees to be appointed by the Commonwealth, and files extensive financial and other disclosures with the Commonwealth.
Penn State University, Temple University, and Lincoln University are also state-related universities. Together, they provide tuition savings of more than $1 billion to Pennsylvania students and families, nearly double their total appropriation from the commonwealth.
That depends on many factors, and it changes each year.
Below is a chart that shows our non-adjusted appropriation from the Commonwealth since 1995.
However, if you adjust for inflation, the $154,335,000 appropriation that Pitt received in 2016 would have had a buying power of $97,811,090 in 1995—32 percent less than our appropriation in 1995.
The non-preferred appropriation status is not a reflection of the importance of the state-related universities to the Commonwealth. It indicates that our bills are passed separately from the General Fund and require a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate for approval, rather than a simple-majority vote.
An endowment is a financial donation or other asset given to the university to be invested. These funds are restricted in a variety of ways by those who have generously given them. Restrictions can include the amount that can be spent, how the funds must be invested, where interest income can be spent, and other requirements for use.
For example, a donor may specify that the money they have given must be used on a scholarship or research funds. We have a legal obligation to follow these requirements and to be good stewards of our endowment. Additionally, state law limits the amount of endowment income that can be spent each year.
All of this means that we cannot simply negate declining state support by spending more of our endowment.
We are grateful that there is bipartisan support for funding Pitt and our fellow state-related universities. However, the budget process is difficult and complex, and because the state-related universities require a two-thirds vote, they are often used as leverage in negotiations.
Pennsylvania students and families should not be pawns in the political process. That’s why we are asking you, as constituents, to contact your legislators and Governor Wolf to share your Pitt stories and remind them of the incredible value of a Pitt education.
It’s critical that your representatives hear from you. Using the form on the home page, you can reach out to your state representative and senator and Governor Wolf to tell them that With Pitt, PA Wins.
Phone calls and in-person visits are also extremely effective. Please let us know if you do call or visit—it is always helpful to know how many constituents an elected official and his or her staff have heard from.
Finally, we encourage you to stay involved with the Pitt Advocates. We’ll provide you with regular updates, opportunities to get involved, and invitations to special events, such as Pitt Day in Harrisburg.
We want you to be as informed as possible. Please feel free to contact Meg Campbell, the communication and advocacy manager in Pitt's Office of Community and Governmental Relations, with any further questions. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-624-7702 and will be happy to connect you with the right person or source.