Pennsylvania Approves Tuition Increase, Costs Remain Low

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

The Board of Governors of Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education have approved the smallest percentage tuition increase in over a decade due to the efforts of universities in the state to contain their costs and a second year in a row of increased investment by the Commonwealth.

In all, tuition at the 14 State System universities will see a 2.5% increase for the 2016-17 school year, amounting to an $89 per semester increase for students. For most full-time students from Pennsylvania, which make up around 90% of all State System students, the increase means they will pay $3,619 per semester, or $7,238 for the full year. Even after the increase goes into effect, the State System will continue to be the lowest-cost option for four-year colleges and universities in the state.

Students at Millersville University will be subject to a higher tuition increase of 6% due to the per-credit tuition pilot program at the school. Implemented in 2014, the program allows all students at the school to pay tuition by credit rather than at a flat rate. The higher rate is the result of discounts included in the program which are being gradually phased out, writes Tim Stuhldreher for Lancaster Online.

The combined efforts of the State System have resulted in the elimination of close to $300 million in expenditures as a result of combining operation budgets over the last ten years in order to keep costs down for students and balance budgets. At the same time, the Commonwealth has increased their funding contribution to the State System by close to $31.5 million over the last two years after seven years in a row of either flat or reduced general fund appropriations.

"We are grateful to the Legislature and Governor Wolf for the increased investment in our students and our universities, and we pledge to make the most of that investment, to help ensure our students have continued access to high-quality, high-value educational experiences that will lead to their future success," said newly elected Board Chair Cynthia D. Shapira.

The 2016-17 state budget includes an increase for the State System, going from $412.8 million in 2014-15 to $444.2 million. The System received an increase of around $20.6 million last year and will receive an additional increase of $10.8 million this year.

"The funding we receive from the state represents an important investment that benefits not only our students, but also the Commonwealth, where the vast majority of our students reside and where they will remain after graduation to live, work and raise their families," said Chancellor Frank T. Brogan. "Their success is very much tied to Pennsylvania's success."

Despite the increases in funding from the state, the State System is still down about $60 million in what it receives from the state in comparison to 2007-08, prior to the recession which caused several years of fundings cuts to the System.

Nonresident, undergraduate tuition at the schools will see an increase of 2.5%, ranging from $10,858 to $18,096 for the 2016-17 school year. The technology fee is set at $448 for full-time residents and $682 for full-time nonresidents.

Meanwhile, the resident graduate tuition rate will be $483 per credit, resulting from an increase of $13. The nonresident graduate tuition rate will increase by $20 for a total of $725 per credit.

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