Facing a growing budget deficit of more than $600 million, Pennsylvania Gov. Mark S. Schweiker plans to cut Temple’s funding and President David Adamany may look to students to make up the shortfall.
Schweiker has proposed to cut funding to state-related institutions by 5 percent, which could force Temple to raise tuition.
The U.S. Department of Education reported that a decline in state appropriations is the single most important factor associated with increases in tuition — a national trend as states struggle with large deficits.
Facing a cut of about $9 million, Adamany pleaded with the Pennsylvania State Appropriations Committee to not only forego the cut, but to increase funding, which has declined to 36 percent of the school’s revenues. Adamany warned that if the proposed 2002-03 budget was approved, Temple’s tuition could increase by a double-digit percentage.
A 10 percent tuition increase is currently the number that is being talked about, which has motivated a group of students to hold a rally on Thursday, April 4 at 2 p.m. in front of the Bell Tower to protest such an increase.
Adamany recently said he had not heard anything concerning a definitive increase percentage.
“The protest as I understand says that there is going to be a 10 percent tuition increase, which is completely false,” he said. “The tuition committee representatives of the University recommend that we should increase between seven and 10 percent, if we can’t improve the budget situation. I’ve not accepted that report because I think we have to struggle and to continue to struggle to get the legislature to meet us there.”
A 10 percent increase at Temple would mean an additional $732 for students, in addition to the 5 percent increase already absorbed by students this year.
The legislature is expected to finalize the budget by June. Until then, Adamany warned that it is too early for tuition panic.
“There is no such proposal. There is no such increase,” Adamany said, indicating that the University has not yet planned to raise tuition.
He is also hoping the state will decide against a cut or make Temple’s cut equal to that of other state universities.
“Now, state universities are taking a 3 percent reduction…we’re taking five,” he said. “If they could hold it at three, we would have a painful tuition increase, but it wouldn’t be outrageous.”
Adamany said reasonable tuition has always been a Temple policy. Last year, when facing virtually no increase in state funding, Temple raised tuition by 4.9 percent, which Adamany said was far below that of other universities such as the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University.
Adamany also said the University would look for alternative ways to meet funding cuts before going to a high tuition increase.
“Tuition increases would have to be one part of what we would do if we had serious budget cuts,” Adamany said. He said the University might also reduce positions and services to cover the loss of state money.
James Colyar, Temple student, rally sponsor, and vice president of Good Schools Pennsylvania, said students are already struggling with the costs of tuition, textbooks, and housing – issues that the administration needs to hear and understand.
“I don’t think there is anything good about paying more money,” Colyar said.
Other students share Colyar’s opinion.
“My working schedule would become more hectic in order to pay for tuition,” said Khalil Murrell, a Political Science junior and part-time office worker.
Murrell already commutes from his home in New Jersey because limited financial aid doesn’t allow him to live on campus.
“In my experience, financial packages at Temple aren’t exactly prepared for student needs,” Murrell said. “Boosting tuition would only promote this inconvenience.”
Shirley Dailey, a Social Work major, also has concerns about the cost of higher tuition.
“I think it’s going to affect students in ways that are going to be negative,” Dailey said.
Dailey predicts that Temple will be forced to cut classes, programs and teachers to make up for state budget cuts.
Adamany disagreed with that assertion.
“You can’t go in and say, ‘Well, here we have a budget cut so we’ll eliminate physics,’ because you have got students who are out there in that major,” he said. “And you can’t say to them, ‘Well, sorry,’ so any phasing out of any program takes several years, but the budget cut says the current year, so this is not an easy situation.”
Although Dailey graduates in May, she is concerned about her daughter, who she said won’t be eligible for a full grant if tuition goes up.
But Adamany insists opponents are barking up the wrong tree.
“Instead of holding a rally, contact the state,” Adamany said.
Adamany urged students to tell the legislature that the proposed budget cut would be “quite a blow to Temple.”
Staff writer Chris Powell contributed to this article.
Kia Gregory can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org