Since Gov. Corbett presented a budget which reduced state taxpayer funding for institutions including Penn State, Temple, Pitt, and the State System of Higher Education, college administrators, faculty and lobbyists have decried these cuts as unfair and harmful.
However, the proponents of institutional funding typically appeal to historical funding and sentimental reasons to support certain universities. These fail to address the core questions surrounding taxpayer support for institutions:
- What results are we trying to achieve by funding specific universities?
- If we are trying to help make college more affordable, shouldn’t we put that money into grants for students, which is more effective at reducing college costs than institutional support?
Indeed, only 30 cents out of every dollar in institutional subsidies goes toward lowering tuition. Flat grants to students, which don’t vary with university tuition, would be a more effective tool for making college more affordable.
- If we are trying to help more students graduate from college, why are we funding institutions with such low graduation rates?
- Are public universities greater “economic engines” of the economy than other industries, which are being taxed rather than subsidized?
- Why do these institutions deserve state appropriations, and not the roughly 100 private universities in Pennsylvania?
- Why do states that spend more on higher education have lower economic performance?
- Shouldn’t branch campuses and state system school with poor graduation rates and low and declining enrollment be closed down?
- Are we incenting students to attend universities they won’t graduate from, when lower-cost alternatives like community colleges, online learning, or certificate programs would better meet their educational needs?
- What would really happen to the educational attainment and economy of this state if we cut subsidies to these few select universities?
- Should taxpayers be forced to fund universities that have gotten beyond their core educational mission and spend the majority of their resources on ancillary services, like housing, recreation centers, real estate and athletics?