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Pitt slightly increases tuition

Jason Cato
| Friday, July 13, 2012, 9:12 a.m.

The University of Pittsburgh board of trustees on Friday unanimously approved a budget that includes a tuition increase for the 2012-13 academic year that is the smallest in at least a decade.

Students at the school's main campus in Oakland will have a 3 percent tuition hike, while those at its three regional campuses will get a 2 percent increase.

Officials with Pitt and other Pennsylvania universities agreed not to raise tuition more than the 2011 consumer-price index, which was 3.2 percent, in order to avoid another round of severe reductions in state funding that Gov. Tom Corbett proposed.

Since 2000, Pitt's undergraduate tuition has increased 245 percent for in-state students and 180 percent for out-of-state students.

Students said they expected the tuition increase.

“We could protest it, but it's not going to make a big difference,” said senior Natalie Camacci, 20, of Harrisburg. “We used to stress about it. But now it's not something we even get upset about — which is kind of sad.”

Katherine Delle, 22, a senior from Worcester, Mass., expressed similar apathy.

“It doesn't surprise me,” she said. “To me, it's more like paper cuts. It keeps going up and up, but what's another $750 compared to what I already pay? Now, you just kind of roll your eyes when there's a tuition increase. I'd be more surprised if it stayed the same or went down.”

Pitt trustees raised tuition by 8.5 percent last year for the 2011-12 academic year — the largest increase since 2003, when costs jumped more than $1,500 per student.

University officials said they slashed spending in other areas this year to avoid another sharp tuition increase.

More than 350 staff members volunteered for an early-retirement program and the capital budget for campus improvements was set at $57.7 million — $100 million less than the university's capital budgets have averaged over the past five years, Pitt officials said.

A year after complaining about $144.5 million in state appropriations — a 19 percent cut from the previous year — Pitt officials expressed gratitude in receiving the same amount this year.

“We are very grateful for the funding restoration,” said Chancellor Mark Nordenberg. “We do hold out hope that the economy will improve and, with that improvement, we will see a more predictable environment for investments in higher education.”

Trustees set Pitt's 2012-13 operating budget at $1.94 billion, the same as last fiscal year, which ended June 30. The new budget includes a 3 percent increase in the university's salary pool.

The state Department of Education said Pitt has lived up to its promise.

“We applaud them for keeping their spending in check,” said spokesman Tim Eller.

The approved tuition increases for the 2012-13 academic year apply to all students.

In-state undergraduate tuition will increase to $15,730 from $15,272. Out-of-state undergraduates will pay $25,420, up from $24,680.

The U.S. Department of Education ranks Pitt as the second-most expensive public university in the country, behind only Penn State.

The board also implemented or increased various fees for students at regional campuses — a $65 recreation fee for Johnstown students; a $40 transportation fee for Bradford students; a $90 freshman socialization fee; and a $95 athletic fee for Greensburg students.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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