Temple president: In-state tuition discount ends if Pa. doesn't pass budget | Opinion

Temple University is responsible for $4.5 billion in economic impact within the commonwealth each year, and supports nearly 27,000 jobs statewide.

As Philadelphia’s public university, Temple University plays a unique role. We are passionately dedicated to our mission of providing an educational experience that is accessible, affordable, diverse, high-quality, and engaged with our communities. That is who we are, and our valued partnership with the commonwealth — which has lasted for more than 50 years — makes this possible.

Currently, Temple receives an annual appropriation of about $150 million from the state. These funds are vitally needed to help keep tuition as low as possible for Pennsylvania students. Unfortunately, Temple, Penn State, Pitt, and Lincoln — and the 130,000 Pennsylvania students and their families these state-related universities serve — are threatened by the ongoing state budget impasse.

Like any business, we could not simply swallow a loss of this size without making drastic decisions. At Temple, nearly 22,000 undergraduate students now get a discount of almost $12,000 a year, which totals $48,000 over four years. Without our state appropriation, this in-state discount — which Pennsylvania families have depended on for decades — would be over, and student debt would increase dramatically.

The irony is that when I talk with elected leaders, the vast majority agree that Temple and our fellow state-related schools provide a great education at a good price. They praise us for programs like Temple’s Fly in 4, which creates a clear path for students to graduate in four years or less, reduces debt, and allows them to quickly enter the workforce.

Legislators boast about the research that is being done at our schools on critical issues, from eliminating AIDS and fighting the opioid crisis to creating better helmets for our soldiers at war and our athletes on the field.

The fact is, Temple provides extraordinary value to the commonwealth in so many ways.

Temple is responsible for $4.5 billion in economic impact within the commonwealth each year. The university is also responsible for supporting nearly 27,000 jobs statewide. Likewise, Temple University Health System provides nearly $3 billion in economic impact for the state annually while supporting 16,000 jobs.

Put together, that’s $7.5 billion in economic impact and 43,000 jobs statewide. As we see it, the commonwealth allocates $150 million to Temple University, and we use our resources to turn that into a multibillion-dollar return on investment.

Our students know Temple is on the right path. This year, for the first time, we have a student body of more than 40,000. They are voting with their feet and enrolling in a university that has for more than a century committed to changing lives for the better.

We urge our elected leaders in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to take action and pass the stalled legislation that provides Temple and our fellow state-related schools with the funding that opens doors for talented, deserving Pennsylvania students.

Let’s keep the public in Philadelphia’s public university.

Richard M. Englert is president of Temple University. president@temple.edu