Penn State

Pitt overtakes Penn State as most expensive public university

The University of Pittsburgh has something on Penn State.

Pitt is now has the most expensive tuition in the country, knocking Penn State down to No. 2, according to a U.S. Department of Education list released Friday.

Penn State’s tuition and fees amounted to $15,984, according to the list, while Pitt’s figures were a tad higher, at $16,132.

Four Penn State branch campuses — in Altoona, Reading, Harrisburg and Erie — rounded out the top 15 with tuition and fees that are more than $13,600.

The ranking was no shocker to those in Old Main, said spokeswoman Lisa Powers on Friday, because of rising costs to the university and declining financial support from the state in recent years.

“The proposed 2013-14 state appropriation for Penn State is equal to what the university received in 1996, when 15,000 fewer students attended,” Powers said. “Our tuition increases have reflected a shift in financial responsibility from the commonwealth to the student as well as well as inflationary growth of expenses.”

In-state tuition for incoming freshmen at Penn State has more than doubled from $7,054 in 2001 to $15,562 for this year. Tuition can be as high as $20,090 depending on a student’s year and major.

The tuition rates for the next school year will be set next week, when the university’s board of trustees convenes for a meeting at the Fayette campus in the southwestern part of the state.

Administrators in Old Main promised to keep the next tuition increase as low as possible in return for the same amount of state funding as last year, which was $214 million. That pool of money goes toward subsidizing in-state tuition.

Penn State officials have taken steps to alleviate the burden of rising costs of tuition.

For instance, the university is rolling out a $20 million scholarship program to help reduce tuition for students. Starting in the fall, Penn State will award 2,700 students with scholarships worth between $4,000 and $6,000.

The tuition list was published by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center.