Pennsylvania house approves veterinary school funding

Scholarship students at Penn Vet are breathing easier this week.

Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to pass a series of bills already passed by the State Senate that would approve $600 million in state funding to half a dozen universities, including $30 million earmarked for Penn Vet, the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

If Governor Tom Wolf signs the bills into law, it means Pennsylvania students attending these schools will continue to get a discount for in-state tuition for the rest of this academic year. A tuition hike is a serious risk if the state funding doesn’t come through.

Passing the bills wasn’t a slam-dunk.

Last November, the University of Pennsylvania declared itself a sanctuary campus—a college or university that adopts polices to protect undocumented aliens in the campus community. Those policies include forbidding Federal immigration officials to come on campus without a warrant, and ordering campus police not to enforce immigration law.

An estimated 200,000 to 225,000 college students in the United States are undocumented. How many of them are veterinary students is anyone’s guess.

But giving public money to a Veterinary School associated with a sanctuary campus didn’t sit well with some lawmakers.

State Representative Jerry Knowles is co-sponsoring a bill to cut off funding for schools that claim sanctuary school status, saying it would be hypocritical of him to support funding for Penn Vet.

“We’re talking about an Ivy League college with lots of money,” Knowles said. “Students matter. Animals matter. Farmers matter. But laws and taxpayers matter too.”

The bill is a big deal to Penn Vet. That $30 million represents 22 percent of the School’s annual budget.

Penn Vet is the only veterinary school in Pennsylvania, so a lack of funding for in-state tuition could seriously impact residents who dream of a career in veterinary medicine.

Photo credit: (c) iStock PeopleImages

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