By Bill Hearst
The Board of Governors of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education approved a 3.5 percent increase in tuition for the 2017-18 academic year.
The $127-per-semester increase sets the base tuition rate for most full-time Pennsylvania residents—who comprise about 90 percent of all State System university students—at $3,746 per term, or $7,492 for the full year. Even with the increase, the State System universities will remain the lowest-cost option among all four-year colleges and universities in the state.
The tuition increase will help offset about half of a projected $71.7 million budget deficit across the system. The universities still will be required to trim a combined nearly $37.8 million in expenditures to balance their individual budgets this year. The universities already have reduced expenditures by a combined nearly $325 million over the last dozen years in order to balance their budgets and to help hold down student costs.
“The universities—despite the enormous challenges they have faced over the last decade, and continue to face today—have done an extraordinary job of controlling their expenses in order to maintain the best quality and affordable higher education for our students,” said Board of Governors chair Cynthia D. Shapira. “We all are committed to ensuring this continues.”
The commonwealth over the last three years has restored about $40 million of the nearly $90 million in funding that was cut from the State System’s annual appropriation at the beginning of the recession. Prior to 2015-16, the system had gone seven straight years with either flat or reduced funding from the state.
“We are grateful to Gov. Wolf and the General Assembly for this latest increase in support, the third increase in a row,” Shapira said. “It’s a strong endorsement of the important role we play as Pennsylvania’s public universities.”
This year’s state budget includes about $453.1 million for the State System, up from about $444.2 million last year, an increase of $8.9 million, or 2 percent.
“This new investment in the State System will help our universities continue to serve our students and the entire commonwealth,” said State System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan. “It is gratifying to know that even in these enormously challenging times, both the governor and the General Assembly understand how important public higher education is to Pennsylvania’s future and to Pennsylvania’s economy. Our State System universities are a smart investment—one that will pay enormous dividends today, tomorrow and for years to come.”
Even with the increases in commonwealth support over each of the last three years, the State System will receive about $50 million less from the state this year than it did in 2007-08, just before the onset of the recession that severely impacted both the state and national economies and led to several years of funding cuts to the system. This year’s appropriation essentially matches the amount the System received from the state in 2001-02.
Nonresident, undergraduate tuition also will increase by 3.5 percent beginning in the fall, ranging from $11,238 to $18,730 for the 2017-18 academic year. The resident, graduate tuition rate will be $500 per credit, an increase of $17. The nonresident, graduate tuition rate will increase by $25 per credit, to $750. The technology fee will be $464 for full-time resident students, and $706 for full-time nonresidents.
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