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University of Pittsburgh students, alumni, faculty and staff traveled to Harrisburg en masse to deliver a message to state lawmakers on Tuesday, March 29: We support Pennsylvania students, and we support Pitt.
The annual trip, known as Pitt Day in Harrisburg, connects legislators with community members from across all five Pitt campuses. This year’s event also kicked off a larger outreach effort to explain why the state-funded tuition discount matters to Pitt students and families across the commonwealth.
“At Pitt Day in Harrisburg, our conversations with lawmakers focused on one critical issue: preserving the state-funded tuition discount for Pennsylvanians,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “This is a powerful and life-changing benefit — and one that directly supports the commonwealth’s students, families and future.”
Pennsylvanians attending Pitt currently save an average of $60,000 over their undergraduate career. This benefit, which residents have enjoyed for more than half a century, is funded by both the commonwealth and Pitt.
Recently, however, some House Republicans have stated their intent to vote against Pitt’s annual appropriation bill. Such a move would directly and swiftly impact Pennsylvanian families — and throw the existing in-state tuition discount into jeopardy.
It’s a scenario that students like Steven Tyger are still struggling to comprehend. A University of Pittsburgh at Bradford nursing student from McKean County, Tyger talked with legislators about what a withdrawal of state support would mean to him and his family.
“I am a first-generation Pitt student. Growing up in a large family with five kids and a single parent, we didn’t have a lot of income,” said Tyger, who noted that the current state-funded tuition discount made his college education affordable — and possible. “My parent can’t pay for it, so all the responsibility falls on me to find the grants and opportunities that help students like me.”
Pennsylvania consistently ranks near the bottom across the United States in per capita support for public higher education and near the top in post-graduation student debt. These conditions mean that — for some students — staying in Pennsylvania for college is already a hard sell.
First-year student Catherine Fitzpatrick of Montgomery County sees the grass getting remarkably greener across state lines without the tuition discount in place.
“I'm paying to put myself through school, so I'm really worried about the financial aspects,” she said. “I’d definitely have to go somewhere else.”
Sophomore Dominic Victoria shared similar feedback with lawmakers, “I love Pitt. But, when it comes down to it, you’ve got to be realistic financially. I would not have come here without an in-state tuition,” he said. “I would have made another university — one out-of-state — work.”
While many of this year’s Pitt Day attendees left the capitol feeling hopeful, the push to protect the in-state tuition discount for current and future Pitt students is just beginning. State legislators typically finalize the commonwealth’s budget in June and, this year, every voice and vote is important.
Stefan Bordeianu, a senior from Marshall Township, can attest to the value of the state-funded tuition discount firsthand. It has helped the Pittsburgh campus student achieve the near impossible: “I’ll be able to graduate without any debt or loans — and that’s strictly because of the in-state tuition and merit aid I’ve received,” said Bordeianu, who is studying politics, philosophy and French. “I’m fighting to ensure future students retain the same opportunities and that the 2022 appropriation bill goes through.”
Join the Pitt Advocates Network now to help preserve the in-state tuition discount for Pennsylvania’s students and families.
— Kara Henderson
A history of Pennsylvania investing in Pennsylvanians
Every year for nearly six decades, Pennsylvania has funded a tuition discount for in-state students attending the University of Pittsburgh. This funding packs powerful benefits, reducing tuition costs by more than $15,000 annually for in-state students and making a world-class education more affordable and accessible for families throughout the state. Learn more about the commonwealth’s long-standing commitment to Pennsylvanians.