Penn College Board Approves 2001-02 Budget, Fees

Published 06.21.2001


The Pennsylvania College of Technology Board of Directors has approved a $55.8 million operating budget and established tuition rates and related fees for the 2001-02 academic year.

The $55,820,242 operating budget represents a 6.6-percent increase over 2000-01. The total appropriation coming to Penn College through The Pennsylvania State University budget is $12,935,000 for 2001-02, a decrease of $1.6 million (11.2 percent).

The Unrestricted Current Funds budget, which includes the operating budget plus the Auxiliary, Unrestricted Scholarship, Gifts and Donations, Use of College Resources, Parking Permit, and Renewal and Replacement budgets, is $67,649,361 a decrease of 4.5 percent from 2000-01. The decrease is due primarily to the reduced state appropriation.

In 2000-01, the state contributed more than $14.5 million to the operating budget, including a $1.6 million additional appropriation to support equipment purchases for technology education and workforce development.

During a campus visit in April, state appropriations committee chairman, Rep. John E. Barley (R- Lancaster County), said, "That's the type of investment we should be making." He called the college a "positive force" and said its history of successfully placing the vast majority of graduates in jobs with "family-sustaining wages" results in a "brain gain" for Pennsylvania.

State Rep. Brett O. Feese (R-Lycoming County), a member of the Penn College Board of Directors who invited Barley to the campus "to see how the tax dollars work here," said he was seriously disappointed that Penn College's allocation was reduced for the coming year and added that he hopes to see other sources of funding made available at the state level.

"I am keenly aware that there is strong support, from the Legislature and from Gov. Ridge, for the kind of technology-based programs offered at Penn College."

Penn College President Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour said the College had hoped the additional support would have been continued for more than one year and credits Rep. Feese for his continuing and unwavering commitment to secure additional resources for Penn College.

"This funding change will impact our ability to accomplish our work in the coming year," Dr. Gilmour said. "With a need to reduce our operating budget by $1.6 million, we were faced with two options: raise tuition by over 6.5 percent or cut some of our planned expenditures. We have chosen to cut costs."

The president said she believed that "a tuition raise of that level would be intolerable for many of our students." She explained that her concern was twofold: "Not only might individual students lose the opportunity to complete their education, but the loss of student enrollment also could have a devastating impact on the institution's overall budget projections."

The president said that keeping students' tuition increase below 5 percent and maintaining the integrity of their educational experience were the goals driving the process as the budget cuts were decided.

Adjusted expenditures will fall into the categories of community outreach, workforce development and facility improvement, Dr. Gilmour announced.

For the first time in many years, the administration will defer maintenance on facilities and reduce facility renovations in a number of areas on campus. The president stated that construction of the new Student and Administrative Services Center will continue as planned, but some projects to update and improve existing facilities will be delayed. (Construction projects currently under way and in the planning stages are not part of the 2001-02 budget, as they are funded by bond proceeds.)

"We put great emphasis on maintaining a campus that reflects our commitment to excellence, and we will make our best effort to continue to be a place that our students and the community can point to as a source of pride," Dr. Gilmour said. "But some projects will wait until we can secure additional funding."

"We will be forced to reduce our participation in community-workforce development and educational-outreach programs," she said. "I feel obligated to spend dollars first to support the programs and services that have the most significant, direct impact on students who are paying hard-earned tuition dollars. While my heart also leads me to want to help in community initiatives, (Dr. Gilmour is chairman of the executive committee of the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce), I must limit College spending in this regard in order to contain costs."

In addition, Dr. Gilmour said the College would be forced to increase its dependence on state and federal grants and private donations to purchase instructional equipment and to offer special services for students' personal and professional development.

"Penn College is a good steward of the public trust and of public dollars," the president said. "We will be responsible in allocating our limited dollars to maintain the quality of education that people have come to expect from Pennsylvania's premier technical college."

For Pennsylvania residents, who account for 94 percent of the total student population at Penn College, tuition will increase $10.60 per credit hour (4.8 percent) to $233 per credit hour in 2001-02. Adding the fees that are assessed on a pre-credit-hour basis for computer and lab use and student activities, an in-state student at Penn College will pay $262 per credit hour 5.9 percent more than this year. For a Pennsylvania resident carrying a typical 15-credit-hour-per-semester course load over two semesters, this translates into a tuition increase of $318 (to $6,990); with added fees, the increase will be $438 (to $7,860).

The in-state tuition increase is slightly more than the average increase of 4.5 percent at Penn College over the past five years. Tuition rose by 4.5 percent last year, 4 percent in 1999-2000, 3.2 percent in 1998-99, 4.5 percent in 1997-98 and 6.51 percent in 1996-97.

Tuition for an out-of-state resident will increase $36.10 per credit hour (13.5 percent) to $303 per credit hour. Adding the related fees, a nonresident will pay $40.10 more per credit hour ($332) - a 13.7-percent increase over 2001-02. For an out-of-state student carrying a 15-credit-hour load over both semesters, this translates into a tuition increase of $1,083 (to $9,090) or $1,203 (to $9,960) for tuition plus related fees.

Financial-aid and scholarship assistance has increased in recent years at Penn College, helping to mitigate the burden of tuition costs for eligible students, Dr. Gilmour noted. Three out of four Penn College students received a total of $37.4 million in financial aid from federal, state and local sources in the 2000-01 academic year. In addition, the College and its Foundation provided 241 scholarships totaling $242,650.

"A Penn College education is an investment in a secure future," she said, noting that more than 90 percent of the College's graduates find employment or continue their education one year after graduation, with graduate-placement rates reaching 100 percent in many majors.

The College will continue seeking ways to hold down tuition costs, Dr. Gilmour said, including partnering with industry and government in creative ways and paring expenses and eliminating duplication wherever possible.

Laboratory-instruction fees will increase from $17 per lab hour to $18 per lab hour (5.9 percent) in 2001-02. The revenue generated by a $9-per-credit-hour computer fee once again will be designated for upgrading, expanding and supporting academic computing resources. Penn College emphasizes computer accessibility for its students, offering one computer for every six students currently enrolled. (The national average for college campuses is one computer for every 18 students.)

Dr. Gilmour added that, Penn College's technology-based curriculum generates expenses that often exceed those at traditional liberal-arts institutions of comparable size. A significant investment of dollars is necessary, she said, to acquire and maintain state-of-the art equipment and facilities that allow students to receive hands-on training in a real-world environment and to hire and retain faculty who are experts in their respective technical fields.

Personnel costs account for $42,399,960 or 76 percent of the operating budget total. The budget projects salary increases averaging 3 percent for eligible faculty and staff. The College employs more than 700 full-time faculty and staff (more than 1,000 full- and part-time employees), making it the fifth-largest employer in Lycoming County, according to Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry statistics.

Revenue-generating Auxiliary Fund budgets for 2001-02 total $11,064,434. They are: Food Services, $2,651,600; the Children's Learning Center, $277,893; College Store, $3,227,571; Student Activities, $861,686; Housing, $3,571,397; and the Technology Transfer Center, $474,287.

Other Unrestricted Current Fund budgets (distinct from the Operating and Auxiliary budgets) total $764,685. They are Unrestricted Scholarships, $199,500; Gifts and Donations, $200,000; Use of College Resources, $25,000; Parking Permit Fund, $280,000; and Renewal and Replacement, $60,185.

The Restricted Current Fund, the fund used to account for grants, contracts and restricted donations in which outside parties direct the use of the money, is $7,212,690 for 2001-02.

The Debt Service Fund, which accounts for money received and expended to pay for the College's outstanding bond issues, totals $5,898,638.

As presented to the Board of Directors, the total College budget, which includes the Operating, other Unrestricted, Restricted, and Debt Service Funds, equals $80.7 million for 2001-02 .