Pa.-related universities present united front against state cuts

    As their institutions face deep cuts for the second year in a row, the heads of Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities are making the case that state funding is a major piece of their budgets.

    The presidents of Penn State, Pitt and Temple told lawmakers Wednesday Gov. Tom Corbett’s call for a 30 percent reduction to their state aid is too harsh.

    The Corbett administration argues that the cuts represent just a small percentage of the institutions’ overall operating budgets.

    But the universities’ leaders counter that funding comes from a vast array of sources and often is dedicated to specific purposes.

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    Penn State president Rodney Erickson said there are often questions about his institution’s endowment, and whether it can be used to defray rising costs.

    “The answer is no,” Erickson said. “Those funds were entrusted to us as endowment to continue to grow those funds and use the proceeds off of them for specific purposes. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever given the university money to pay the electric bill.”

    The governor’s proposed reductions of almost $150 million come a year after the state cut about $140 million in aid to state-related schools.

    Penn State, Pitt and Temple officials say the proposed cuts will force them to become more like private institutions with higher tuition, and possibly fewer branch campuses.

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