Funding from the state of Pennsylvania is drastically lower at Penn State than other state universities, according to a new survey of state support for flagship universities.

Based on figures from 2008, the Chronicle survey states Penn State received  $2373 per student from the state — less than half the amount every other state university in the nation receives from state funding, aside from the University of Colorado. (Ohio State receives $10,647 per student, the State Univeristy of New York at Buffalo receives $16,086 per student and Rutgers in New Jersey receives $8,702 per student.)

Despite the drastically lower funding Penn State receives, the school has been at the top of the list for tuition among flagship unversities for many years. And still, Gov. Tom Corbett is suggesting a budget cut to reduce Penn State’s subsidy to less than half the current amount.

Penn State officials note the tragic nature of these budget cuts, but many still are going forward with plans that come with a hefty price tag.

For instance, the school officials are carryng on plans for a trip to mid-town Manhattan to meet with prestigious donors. Officials will stay at the Knickerbocker Suite of the Helmseley Hotel, where room rates average $250 per night.

Though some officials said they received “favorable rates” for the hotel arrangements, Gov. Tom Corbett is among the board members against the travel plans. He said he will not be attending, and has reprimanded other board members for attending a costly meeting and simultaneously complaining about budget cuts.

James C. Garland, retired president of Miami University of Ohio, said public universities have drastically boosted the cost of tuition, and majority of the money has gone toward administrative salaries and superfluous campus additions like climbing walls and luxury boxes at football stadiums. He said some state universities have even looked to out-of-state students who are required to pay higher tuition fees to subsidize the costs of such amenities.

Penn State is certainly not the only Pennsylvania school suffering from extremely limited funds.

Jane Wellman, an expert on higher education finance and CEO of Delta Cost Project, a Washington-based nonprofit that analyzes financial policies in higher education, said none of Pennsylvania’s state-owned or state-related universities have much leeway in terms of their budget.

Pennsylvania has never been generous with subsidies for public institutions, Wellman said.

She noted that the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) schools have already used the data from her Web site to cut budgets where they can, in an effort to be more cost-effective.

State officials have begun proposing resolutions to the funding problem: Corbett and the Garland both support a plan to award education subsidies to students directly, the require the schools to compete for those students who have been awarded the subsidies.

This plan would benefit both students and universities, raising the level of excellence across the board.

Garland said the same amount of money would end up at college campuses, but the funds would be more directly channeled toward students who are in need of support from the state.

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