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Pitt's 2004 budget request sees tuition rising 5%

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

By Bill Schackner, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The University of Pittsburgh, where in-state tuition rose 14 percent this fall, has submitted an appropriation request for next year that envisions a 5 percent tuition increase in fall 2003.

Pitt is asking the state for $160,955,000 for the fiscal year 2004 that begins July 1, 2003, or a 5 percent increase over the university's current education and general fund appropriation, university spokes-man Robert Hill said yesterday.

The submission to the state Department of Education is an annual rite that occurs several months before the governor releases a proposed state budget.

Pitt characterized the request as a reasonable balance between its needs and financial limitations facing the state.

The 5 percent increase in tuition could be higher if the university receives less money than it is seeking.

"What we're trying to do is maintain across-the-board improvements that we've enjoyed in the last several years, recognizing the commonwealth, like many states, is experiencing some obvious financial challenges," Hill said.

Last year, state leaders facing a major budget shortfall cut funding to Pennsylvania's public universities. Those schools responded with tuition increases not seen on some campuses in more than two decades.

Penn State University raised tuition 13.5 percent this fall. Earlier this month, it submitted an appropriation request for fiscal 2004 seeking a 4.5 percent increase in aid. The proposal envisions a 6.5 percent tuition increase at Penn State in fall 2003, a figure that also could rise if the school gets less than it is seeking from the state.

At Pitt, the 14 percent increase that took effect this fall brought yearly tuition to $7,868 a year, an increase of $966.

Out-of-state students saw their bills rise at a smaller rate, 10 percent, to $16,676, an increase of $1,516.

Hill said Pitt's 2004 request does not specify whether the tuition increase includes different rates for in-state and out-of-state students. He said the university hopes to increase the salary pool for faculty and staff by 4 percent.

Hill said the appropriation request continues a focus on undergraduate education, including an effort to increase faculty and student interaction through creation of a senior capstone experience for majors throughout arts and sciences.

Pitt also is enhancing its multimedia digital language resource laboratory. He did not attach a dollar value to either initiative.

Bill Schackner can be reached at bschackner@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1977.

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