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Last month, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s annual budget address kicked off the 2022-23 budget season — an unofficial, but impactful time in the commonwealth — which runs through June 30 and has high stakes for Pennsylvania students and families.
As part of this process, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, along with the presidents of Pennsylvania’s other state-related universities, recently testified in Harrisburg before the House of Representatives and Senate appropriations committees. These sessions, which occur each spring, give lawmakers a chance to ask questions and university leaders an opportunity to advocate on behalf of their in-state students and families.
Here are three takeaways from this year’s hearings.
The question of the day: Can our Pennsylvania families live with it?
Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal included a 5% increase for the state-related universities. In the Pennsylvania Senate appropriations committee hearing, each institution was asked: Can your university live with a 5% increase in support from the state?
Gallagher expressed his appreciation for Gov. Wolf’s proposed increase and then asked the question through a different and more meaningful lens.
“The question I would actually be asking is: ‘Can our Pennsylvania families live with it?’” he said. “That's really the central question, since the funding goes to them.”
Every dollar that comes in through the state appropriation is used — directly and exclusively — to reduce tuition costs for Pennsylvania students and families. Over the years, declining state support has prompted Pitt to heavily subsidize the in-state tuition discount available to residents. Today, this in-state tuition discount ensures that Pennsylvanians pay less — an average of $60,000 less over four years — to earn an undergraduate degree from Pitt, which is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading research universities.
Affordability at the forefront: Pitt Success Pell Match Program
In both hearings, lawmakers asked university leaders about affordability initiatives. While Pitt has many to choose from, Gallagher focused on the University’s ambitious Pitt Success Pell Match Program, which matches federal Pell Grant funds dollar for dollar up to the cost of tuition for any Pitt recipient.
Since the program’s inception in 2019, the University has invested nearly $100 million in more than 6,000 students — the majority of whom are Pennsylvania residents. Early results indicate that this historic offering of institutional aid is playing a powerful role in making a world-class Pitt education more accessible and affordable for families throughout the commonwealth.
Your voice matters: Sign up for Pitt Advocates
“Sharing stories with our elected officials about our amazing students, faculty and staff is one of the best parts of my job,” said Paul Supowitz, vice chancellor for government relations. “But it’s always more powerful when lawmakers hear directly from the source: the Pennsylvanians they represent.”
To help Pitt community members leverage their voices and stories, the University runs Pitt Advocates — a grassroots advocacy network of more than 10,000 faculty, staff, students, families and friends of Pitt. Joining the network is easy and free, and it connects participants to Harrisburg happenings, special event invites like Pitt Day in Harrisburg and directly to lawmakers.
Join Pitt Advocates to stay informed and help us remind lawmakers that the state-funded tuition discount is vital to Pennsylvania’s students, families and future.
Building a brighter Pennsylvania
The University of Pittsburgh is a top-ranked public university in the commonwealth, educating about 20,000 Pennsylvanians and injecting an estimated $4.2 billion into the state each year. Pitt is also a national leader in academic excellence and biomedical research — maintaining a top spot in research funds received from the National Institutes of Health — and a proud community anchor, transforming local lives and communities with its mission of creating and leveraging knowledge for society’s gain. Read more about Pitt’s contributions to the commonwealth.