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Penn State Board of Trustees approves tuition freeze for all resident undergrads

(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

READING — The Penn State Board of Trustees Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning on July 19 recommended a $6.5 billion University budget that includes no tuition increase for all Pennsylvania resident undergraduate students for the 2018-19 academic year, the school announced Friday.

The proposed budget and accompanying tuition and fees schedule will be considered by the full board on July 20, and if approved, will mark the second time in four years that resident undergraduate tuition has been frozen at all Penn State campuses.

“When the Pennsylvania General Assembly moved to increase the University’s state appropriation by 3 percent this year, it provided the opportunity to present to the board a budget that reflects our commitment as a University to keeping a Penn State education accessible and affordable for the people of the Commonwealth,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “With this additional state support, and through continued cost efficiencies, this proposed operating budget allows us to keep tuition flat for Pennsylvania students and their families, without compromising the quality of our academic programs. We appreciate the increased state support, and are thankful that champions of public higher education like Sen. Corman and Gov. Wolf continue to support investments in Penn State.”

As part of the University’s commitment to controlling and monitoring costs, the proposed budget includes $36.5 million in cost savings for the coming fiscal year. Including this year’s expense reductions, Penn State has enacted more than $440 million in cuts to recurring costs since 1992, measures that have helped the University meet rising expenses, while keeping tuition increases low or flat.

Tuition and fees

Under the fiscal plan recommended by the committee, in-state undergraduate tuition rates at all Penn State campuses would be held flat for the 2018-19 academic year. At University Park, this means the tuition rate for full-time, lower-division resident undergraduates would remain $8,708 per semester.

For eight of Penn State’s 19 undergraduate Commonwealth Campuses — Beaver, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Allegheny, Mont Alto, New Kensington, Shenango and Wilkes-Barre — the proposal includes no tuition increase for the fourth consecutive year.

Penn State last froze resident undergraduate tuition across the board in 2015-16, followed by modest 1.76 percent and 2.45 percent aggregate tuition increases for Pennsylvania undergraduates in 2016-17 and 2017-18, respectively.

“Access and affordability are top priorities at Penn State,” said Barron. “We must do all that we can to keep the door to a Penn State education open to and within financial reach of the best and brightest students across the Commonwealth. Our increased state support and this tuition freeze is a tangible example of how the University’s land-grant partnership with the Commonwealth directly impacts Pennsylvania citizens.”

The proposed tuition increase for non-resident students is average of 3.54 percent, the school said. Full-time nonresident, lower-division undergraduate students at University Park would see a proposed tuition increase of 3.6 percent, or $588 per semester. For the first time the University is proposing a tiered approach to the nonresident tuition increase at the Commonwealth Campuses, with increases ranging from 2.7 to 3.3 percent, or $269 to $375 per semester, depending on the campus.

In addition, for the fourth year in a row, the student Information Technology Fee would be frozen at $252 per semester for full-time students at all campuses.

The Student Initiated Fee, a combination of the former Student Activity and Student Facilities fees that began in fall 2017, would be $267 per semester for full-time students at University Park, an increase of $9 per semester over 2017-18. The Student Initiated Fee would increase by $4 per semester at most Commonwealth Campuses, and would range from $182 to $240 per semester for full-time students. Two student-run fee boards — one for University Park and one for the Commonwealth Campuses — set and oversee the allocation of the Student Initiated Fee, which supports student-centered activities, services, facilities and recreation to improve student life.