In his March budget address, Gov. Corbett proposed slashing funding for state-related universities by 50 percent, sparking alarmed talk of tuition increases and program cuts.

Now the GOP-led legislature has taken the first step toward putting most of the money back.

A state House panel agreed to restore most of the funding for Penn State, Temple, Lincoln and University of Pittburgh. The House Appropriations Committee is cutting only 19 percent of the funding for the four schools in the fiscal year that begins July 1. That brings the Temple allocation down from $172 million last year to $140 million this year and Lincoln from $13.7 million last year to $11. million this year.

Penn State, which got $264 million last year, will receive $214 million next year.

The budget restorations are being offset by deeper cuts to the Department of Public Welfare, details of which are not yet available.

Democrats on the committee, including Rep. Jewell Williams (D., Phila.) said the General Assembly was ignoring the more than $600 million in excess tax collections that could be used to help college students who may still face tuition hikes.

But House Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph, (R., Delaware) said college students will receive more help from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, known as PHEAA, which will be able to provide an additional $50 million in grants for next year.

The increase will boost the maximum grants to $4,200, over last year's $3,500.

The 14 colleges in the State System of Higher Education will receive a cut of about 18 percent.

The General Assembly will convene on Sunday as it pushes toward a final budget agreement by the June 30 deadline.

Click here for's politics page.