The cost of attending college at Temple or any state-funded school is intrinsically linked to the appropriation given by its respective state. Temple’s historic mission to provide affordable education to those who need it has been increasingly tested by shrinking or stagnant appropriations from Harrisburg. The Board of Trustees’ decision to buck the trend and request an increase in state funding needs to materialize in this year’s budget battles.
As reported in “Trustees to ask for more state funds,” Page 1, Temple’s board is expected to ask for an increase in state funding from the Commonwealth similar to the 5.1 percent increase requested by Penn State last week. Temple’s appropriation has been flat-funded at $139.9 million for three straight years, since it last dropped by 19 percentage points, down from $172.7 million in 2011.
Last year, the university requested a 3 percent increase before agreeing to Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposal to flat-fund state-related institutions.
While the board was able to freeze tuition rates in 2012, the board approved a $400 increase in tuition rates for in-state students and a $600 increase for out-of-state students earlier this summer.
To put it bluntly, the university has settled in three straight fiscal years for a budget that hurts students. While the United States’ economy has had slow but steady growth since the recession, students at Temple and other state-related institutions in Pennsylvania have seen no increases in state appropriations in that time period.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the annual growth rate of the U.S. economy has fluctuated between 1.3 and 3.3 percent since 2010. It is time for the state to start giving back to higher education. While it is commendable for the board to request an increase in funding, it is important that it stands by its request and not accept another year of flat-funding at the detriment of the students it serves.