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Why everyone at Pitt should care about the state budget

  • University News

In March, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro delivered his first budget address before a joint session of the state House of Representatives and Senate, kicking off the budget season for the commonwealth.

The budget is important for Pitt students from Pennsylvania, as well as the entire University community,  because state funding directly provides reduced tuition for in-state students and families at the University of Pittsburgh.

The governor’s budget proposal is now navigating through the legislature as lawmakers face a June 30 deadline to pass a budget. It's a complex process — and one students may not be aware has a significant impact on their education.

David Brown, vice chancellor for government relations and advocacy, acts as Pitt’s primary University liaison with elected officials, informing them about academics, research and community service while illustrating Pitt's impact across Pennsylvania. 

Pittwire asked Brown to explain what the Pitt community needs to know about this year’s budget process, what’s at stake and how to get involved.

Why does the state budget matter for Pitt?

Each year, lawmakers must decide if they want to continue allocating funds to in-state Pitt students to provide a reduced tuition rate for Pennsylvania residents. This funding is not automatic or guaranteed — the legislature must vote on it yearly.

What’s at stake for our Pennsylvania students is significant. The state’s support for Pitt students and families throughout the commonwealth helps shrink tuition costs by more than $16,000 annually — that's $64,000 throughout a four-year degree.

So, reduced tuition for Pennsylvania students isn’t guaranteed?

No. There are no guarantees. Every year lawmakers must vote on this issue. And so, each year, Pitt students and families are at risk of losing this life-changing benefit. That’s why it’s so important for Pitt students, families, alumni and friends to let their elected officials know how vital this funding is for Pennsylvanians.

Budget hearings wrapped recently — what happens next?

In his budget proposal, the governor called for increased funding for Pitt students. This is an exciting step but only the first step. The budget process is long, and negotiations happen constantly. The deadline to pass the state's final budget is June 30, and a lot can change before then.

Despite the governor’s suggested increase, the General Assembly is responsible for appropriating funds. They play a prominent role in the entire process, including deciding whether to continue funding an in-state tuition rate for Pitt students. 

Through June 30, the Pitt community will advocate for Pennsylvania students and families. In March, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher appeared before the Senate and House appropriations committees to answer questions from lawmakers and speak to the importance of supporting Pennsylvanians in accessing and affording a world-class Pitt education.

Over the following weeks, we'll share information and opportunities for the Pitt community to help protect and preserve this critical benefit for Pennsylvania's students and families.

What can I do now?

Join the Pitt Advocates network. This group of Pitt alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends is interested in staying informed and advocating for our University community and its members. The Office of Government Relations and Advocacy shares special updates with Pitt Advocates, including opportunities to meet with and contact elected officials to make a difference.

Lawmakers always like to hear from their constituents. If you live in Pennsylvania, consider contacting the lawmakers representing your home district and urging them to continue supporting Pennsylvania students and families. We’ve set up a web form to make reaching your elected officials easy. It takes seconds to do. You don’t even have to know who your representatives are, and you can use our sample letter of support.

Building a stronger Pennsylvania

The University of Pittsburgh is a top-ranked public university in the commonwealth, educating about 20,000 Pennsylvanians and injecting an estimated $5.2 billion into the state annually. Pitt is also a national leader in academic excellence and biomedical research — maintaining a top spot in research funds 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.