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PASSHE tuition goes up, despite additional state funding


The Fiscal Year 2018-19 state budget hikes funding for Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities by 3.3 percent, but on Thursday the system’s board of governors voted to increase tuition by 2.99 percent. However, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) notes that hike – a $112-a-semester increase – is the second-smallest tuition increase in more than a decade, and was made possible by the fourth-straight year of increased state funding for the system.

PASSHE will receive $468 million in funding from the Commonwealth this year, an increase of $15 million from what it received in FY2017-18. “Providing high-quality, high-value education is our mission,” said Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia D. Shapira in a statement Thursday. “Ensuring student success is our top priority, and we are also committed to the success of each of our institutions. Today’s action underscores our commitment to all of that.”

According to the system, most full-time Pennsylvania residents—who comprise nearly 90 percent of all State System university students—will pay $3,858 a semester in the upcoming academic year, making a full year’s tuition $7,716. The system has been beset by a host of issues, including consistently declining student enrollment (it’s down more than 5 percent during the last decade), increasing costs (total system expenses have grown by at least 20 percent during the past decade) and less state funding than in the past (it’s down a bit more than 5 percent compared to the FY2008-09 appropriation), all of which have caused the average cost to attend a system school to rise 50 percent.

The board vote was not unanimous. New to the board, House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, voted against the tuition hike stating, in a press release criticizing the tuition hike, it had been his hope, and the hope of other lawmakers who voted for the funding increase, “that, given four straight increases in appropriations to the state system, that the board would see fit this year to not increase Pennsylvania students’ tuition.” Other legislative members of the board – state Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks, and state Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton – also voted against the hike, as did one of the student representatives on the board.

PA Workforce Development Association