Penn State eyes 3.39 percent tuition increase

mdawson@centredaily.comJuly 12, 2013 

— Penn State’s tuition at the University Park campus would increase by 3.39 percent for in-state students, according to the proposed rates the university announced Thursday.

Freshman and sophomore students from Pennsylvania would pay an additional $264 per semester, which comes out to $16,090 for the 2013-14 school year. Freshmen and sophomores from outside the state would pay an extra $400 per semester, or $28,664 for the year.

That means high school students from Centre County starting as freshmen at the University Park campus this coming school year would have a total bill of a little more than $26,000, when adding up tuition, housing, the most basic meal plan and fees.

The tuition rates were discussed at a meeting of the university’s board of trustees’ finance committee at the Fayette campus near Uniontown. The board will vote on the proposed rates at its meeting here Friday.

It amounts to the second-lowest rate increase since 1967, university officials said.

Penn State President Rodney Erickson said the proposed increased tuition would help pay for increases to costs that support the university’s academic programs. The university also identified $35.9 million in expense reductions, he said.

“The unavoidable cost increases that could not be funded by internal budget reductions and reallocations are what constitute this increase,” Erickson said. “We remain committed to keeping Penn State's tuition increase at its lowest possible rate without sacrificing the quality of our academic programs.”

The university pledged to keep the increase as low as possible in return for level funding from the state, or $214 million, for 2013-14. That funding goes toward reducing the cost of tuition for in-state students.

State Sen. Jake Corman said Thursday the 3.39 percent increase at the University Park campus is near the upper limit of his comfort zone. But, he said, the state is helping by not properly funding higher education.

“It’s a little hard for me or any other state official to criticize when we haven’t funded higher education for a long time,” he said, referring to the cuts Penn State and other universities have seen in previous years.

Proposed rates at branch campuses would be lower than at the University Park campus.

For instance, at the Altoona campus, the rate would be 2.45 percent per semester, or $160 more.

It’s even lower for campuses in western Pennsylvania, such as the Fayette campus where the board is meeting and the DuBois campus in Clearfield County. Students at those campuses would see a 0.75 percent increase, or $47 per semester.

Penn State’s tuition rates for juniors and seniors are higher depending on the students’ majors. Spokeswoman Lisa Powers said the rates would be equivalent to the proposed increases for the freshman and sophomore tuition rates.

The university is also proposing slight increases to fees added into the cost of an education here.

The information technology fee will go up $4 each semester to $248. The student activities fee will go up $2 to $87 per semester, and the student facilities fee will go up $4 to $116 per semester.

Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT.

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