Auditor general’s swipes at Penn State have some merit

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale took some strong swipes at Penn State University recently.

He pointed out tuition has jumped 500 percent over the past three decades and the tuition for in-state students of $20,000 a year is among the highest for public universities in the nation.

What’s more, there was an accusation that the school may be favoring out-of-state students at the university, which is heavily supported by Pennsylvania tax dollars.

DePasquale said the number of in-state students at the flagship campus in State College fell by 12 percent from 1990 through 2016, while out-of-state students increased 95 percent and students from other countries rose 310.

He pointed out it costs Penn State no more to educate an out-of-state student and the tuition for that student is double that for an in-state student. So there is a clear incentive for that trend.

Many state universities have quotas to limit out-of-state students because they are heavily supported by government funding from their particular state.

There is little solace in the knowledge that tuitions for college students have risen rapidly throughout the country in the past three decades.

And it doesn’t help Penn State’s image when the school lobbies the state Legislature to prevent its records from being opened to public scrutiny under all provisions of the Right-to-Know Law.

And while the school maintains it is doing its best to control tuitions and operations costs, those efforts are somewhat muted when we find out that Penn State President Eric Barron, in place only a couple of years, is the sixth highest paid college president in the nation at $1,039,717 annually.

The state’s taxpayers pay heavily to support Penn State. In return they get a nationally recognized school with many strong educational attributes.

But it’s clear some policies need reworking. And much more fiscal discipline is in order.

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