Rising tuition, declining enrollment prompt state universities to request more funding

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) ABC 27- Rising tuition and declining enrollment have led the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to request more money in the state budget, but not everyone is on board. 

The state has continued to increase funding over the last four years, but the state university system says it's not enough, and neither is the proposal for next year.

"Our request was for $505 million, which would be a $37 million increase over what we're getting now," PASSHE spokesman Kenn Marshall said.

But Governor Tom Wolf proposed to give about $480 million.

This week, the university system made its case to legislators that it needs more.

"Back in 2010, we received a $90 million cut," said Marshall. "Even with that increase, we still would be below where we were prior to when the recession began."

Less funding means cutting costs and higher tuition. 

The effects of that have shown in enrollment.

In 2010, enrollment at state universities was almost 120,000 students. This year, it's about 98,000.

"We need to repurpose those institutions," said Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster). "Some institutions might need to be closed down."

Martin says the state shouldn't consider any increases until the system gets revamped, which is in the works.

"We have institutions that are on accreditation probation currently that are not meeting academic standards and are facing huge fines," said Martin.

"We're in the midst of redesigning the system right now, the entire system," said Marshall.

The state system says Pennsylvania ranks 48th in the country in funding to higher education. 

The Department of Education says the governor will continue to work to keep state universities successful.

"The budget process, it's long," said Eric Levis, press secretary for the Department of Education. "It's a complicated process. The governor has continued to fund higher education. When he came into office, he made education his top priority."

The budget is finalized by the end of June, and tuition gets decided in July.