Proposed policy may allow PA state universities to set own tuition rates

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Going to a state university in Pennsylvania may look a little different for students in the next two years.

That’s because Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is considering a policy change that would allow of the states 14 universities to come up with its own tuition plan.

“They would be able to devise their own tuition plans that meet their needs, their specific programs, their specific mix of students, the different cost factors that are in place within their regions," said Kenn Marshall, spokesman with Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education

Marshall says the policy will specifically serve lower and middle income families and move away from the one-size-fits all rate.

He says the proposed policy would provide better financial options for students.

"As public universities we want to be able to provide education opportunities to to all qualified students regardless of income level," said Marshall.

Tuition can go either way, though, depending on what plan each state university chooses.

“They may set rates based on programs, some programs are more expensive to offer than others," said Marshall.

George Sheets with ‘College Planning Advisors’ in Lancaster County, says that could be a problem for the students who are already enrolled.

“If you take one major up and you take the cost up and the students already budgeted it’s very unfair to those students," said Sheets.

“It’s going to be a drop in the bucket. The student loan debt out there has gotten to be so astounding," he added.

However, Marshall believes the proposed policy change will better serve the students that it is intended for.

“Students in lower and middle incomes can benefit the most over their lifetime by receiving a college education so we are looking at ways to address that," added Marshall.

Under that policy change, the board is also looking to have universities set tuition rates in the month of April instead of July.

“It would give students much more lead time and much more of an ability to plan their expenses over the next two years rather than just one year," said Marshall.

The board plans to further discuss the policy changes at a Thursday board meeting, where a vote may also take place.

If that new policy is voted in, it will not take affect until the 2019-2020 academic year.