Could the University of Pittsburgh become a private institution? 11 College Study Voucher Proposal Survey – WPXI


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PITTSBURGH – Lawmaker proposes plan that would remove all state funding from University of Pittsburgh, Penn State and Temple. Target 11 investigator Rick Earle has reactions from both sides to this controversial proposal that could change the university landscape in Pennsylvania.

The proposal also faces strong reluctance from critics who fear that if this happens, tuition fees will rise and Pennsylvania will be left without any public research institutes.

Supporters of the proposal accused critics of spreading fear.

Earle spoke with State Senator Jay Costa, D-Forest Hill, who sits on Pitt’s board of directors. He also serves on the boards of directors of Duquesne University and the Community College of Allegheny County.

Earle asked Costa about the possibility of Pitt and the other two universities, without public funding, becoming, for all intents and purposes, private universities.

“There is no question of that. To take the $ 600 million and more out of these three entities, these three universities, they become private universities,” said Costa, who added that state funds are being used. to offer tuition discounts to students in the state.At Pitt, that’s about $ 15,000 in savings per year.

“If the subsidy disappears, the rebate also disappears. It is detrimental to the students who are here today in the future and to the families in the future who wish to attend these universities, ”said Costa.

State Representative Eric Nelson, R-Greensburg, is pushing the proposal to create a vouchers program. He told Earle that up to 124,000 low- and middle-income students would be eligible for grants of up to $ 7,000 each year to use at the university, college or technical school of their choice. .

“What about students who go to technical schools, community colleges and all the other private colleges? It’s supposed to concern citizens. This is not a selection of three. We have stacked the bridge to favor some of the wealthiest universities in the state. At the same time, recognize that four of my ten kids, your kids, are going to have to leave to pay off this debt, not that there is anything wrong with that, but for me, students should have a choice, families should have a choice, ”said Nelson.

At a legislative hearing in Harrisburg, representatives from the three schools said if they didn’t get state funding, students would feel the impact.

“We would have to move to a private model, which would have a blended rate for all students, and that would change who we recruit. We would be much more focused outside the state, potentially internationally as well, ”said Pitt Senior Vice Chancellor Hari Sastry.

Schools are fighting back. Pitt sent letters to 100,000 alumni urging them to contact lawmakers to voice their opposition to the proposal, but Nelson’s plan also gained early support.

Alvin Maloy is a member of the Greensburg-Jeannette chapter of the NAACP Education Committee. He believes the voucher program creates more opportunities for more students.

“You get some of these undereducated young men, they don’t have the option to go to Pitt Engineering School, so they may have to take HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) training or technical training. If you give them that money that allows them to be able to do it, because some of these impoverished communities, tech schools, it might as well be Harvard, ”Maloy said.

Nelson, who also questioned Pitt’s fetal tissue research and accused universities of liberal bias, insists it is fairness and equality, not retaliation, adding that his wife dated Pitt and has two children at Penn State.

“I’m not anti-Pitt, Penn State or Temple. I mean these are great schools, but I also agree that these are schools that take that money and spend it in any way, and just provide. It is a nod and a nod for the assurance that these funds will go to the students. And I’m just asking the question, if that’s true, why not give the student the money? Nelson said.

Pitt declined an on-camera interview and sent this statement:

“The University of Pittsburgh has a 55-year partnership with the Commonwealth that supports significant tuition reduction for students and families in Pennsylvania. Eliminating direct public funding for Pitt will unequivocally jeopardize this rebate, which currently saves Pennsylvania students and families up to $ 15,000 per year and $ 60,000 over a career. four-year academic.

“You’re just punishing three universities for being able to achieve one goal, which in my opinion is an appropriate goal, which is to make higher education more affordable. We need to focus on these things without harming or disproportionately impacting these three universities, ”Costa said.

“We have a segment of our population that cannot enter the labor market because they do not have the opportunity to be trained. Yet we are casting votes for $ 600 million in annual taxes for the same old, same old. I mean it’s time for a change in Pennsylvania, and it’s really time for everyone to be qualified to participate, ”said Nelson.

Nelson plans to hold two more public hearings and has said he will likely introduce legislation early next year.

He admits it will be hard to pass, but at the very least, he says he’s drawing attention to the costs of higher education in a state that ranks among the most expensive.

Penn State Executive Vice President and Marshal Nick Jones sent this statement:

“As a public university of Pennsylvania, state ownership is an essential and irreplaceable part of the Penn State budget, and no alternative funding mechanism could adequately replace the ownership and value that college adds to it for Penn State students.

Direct state ownership enables Penn State to offer an in-state tuition rate that benefits approximately 45,000 Pennsylvania resident students each year. Penn State takes the state credit, which works out to about $ 5,400 per undergraduate, and doubles it, with Pennsylvania undergraduates paying an average of about $ 13,000 less in tuition per year. than their non-resident counterparts.

Comments on Representative Nelson’s proposal would be premature at this time as it has not yet been introduced. That said, Penn State doesn’t believe that any voucher program or other funding system can sufficiently replicate the current model and the value it represents to our students. The absence of direct state ownership would be unprecedented and fundamentally change the nature of Penn State, leaving a funding gap of $ 242.1 million that could only be filled through tuition fees, with Significant potential impacts on affordability for our low- and middle-income Pennsylvania students and their families.

Penn State leaders look forward to continuing discussions with Harrisburg leaders about the future of ownership and the value it represents to Pennsylvania students, their families, and the Commonwealth itself. Additional details on how Penn State is using its ownership and how it benefits students can be found in this Pennsylvania State News Article. “

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