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… Cutting strings

Angelo Armenti’s call for less state control of Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education institutions’ finances in line with less state funding is a worthy idea — especially if it would make using state funding as cover for tuition hikes more difficult.

Mr. Armenti says California University of Pennsylvania, where he’s president, and the system’s other 13 public universities can’t meet their mandate — the highest-quality education at the lowest possible cost — under the status quo. He’d like each institution to be able to determine its tuition and use of public money for itself — and be free of cost-boosting construction and procurement regulations.

Public funding, two-thirds of these schools’ budgets in 1984, is one-third this year, forcing state-system schools to rely increasingly on private funding. Still, Pennsylvania spends about $2 billion a year on higher education — and tuition hikes consistently outpace both inflation and state funding.

In keeping with their mission, greater control by state-system universities over their public funding must put affordability for students first. That means using less public money for bloated bureaucracies and palatial facilities on campus and more for delivering mandated high-quality, low-cost education.


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