Penn State

Penn State trustees weigh zero tuition increase at University Park

The Penn State University Old Main building clock tower.
The Penn State University Old Main building clock tower. CDT photo

Penn State’s tuition is a constant bone of contention and comment. A move Thursday by a board of trustees committee wants to chew it over.

The Committee on Outreach, Development and Community Relations voted unanimously to request that the university administration explore the idea of a full stop on tuition increases for 2015-16.

Trustee Ted Brown made the motion, following up on Gov. Tom Wolf’s recent budget proposal that would bump the university’s appropriation by $49 million, about 23 percent.

His fellow alumni-elected trustee, former state Sen. Robert Jubelirer, seconded the motion, saying he thought the governor’s intention was to see the funding call a halt to ever-increasing tuition costs. Jubelirer said the annual announcement of an increase has become almost a religious rite at Penn State.

The motion was not without debate. Emeritus trustee Joel Myers expressed concern about a motion that would tie them into a certain course of action without more information.

Trustee Ryan McCombie solved the problem with language that focused less on demanding a freeze than it did on exploring the possibilities.

“We recommend that we research and investigate the possibilities of a zero percent increase,” he suggested.

Trustee Todd Rucci agreed.

“Let’s make it a priority and a commitment of the committee,” he said, but also allowed the wiggle room by talking about a final number that was near zero.

Although Jubelirer was still set on keeping tuition flat, Brown agreed that the goal should be to look at how low the numbers could go.

“What do we need to do to get to zero?” he said, allowing that sacrifices to the educational quality or other important aspects of the university might be untenable.

Penn State had already announced that tuition at Commonwealth Campuses would remain steady. Any increase would be on University Park tuition.