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3% Tuition Increase Approved for 14 State-Owned Universities

The board of governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) voted nearly unanimously on 2012-13 tuition rates and technology fees. They will be raised 3%, according to PASSHE Spokesman Kenn Marshall. "That amounts to $188 for the full academic year, or $94 per semester," Marshall said. "This will be the fifth time in the last eight years that our tuition increase has been at or below the rate of inflation."

The new tuition rate at all 14 state-owned universities for full-time undergraduate students, who are Pennsylvania residents, will be $6,428.

The universities had promised to keep tuition increases to a minimum in exchange for flat funding for the fiscal year. Governor Tom Corbett had initially proposed cutting funding to PASSHE. Had that happened, Marshall said tuition surely would have gone up more.

"Just as an example, last year we had our state funding reduced by 18% and we had a 7.5% tuition increase, more than double what we had this year," he said. "By being able to secure the same level of funding this year as we got last year, we were able to keep that tuition increase much lower."

But the universities will still struggle.

"Even with the 3% tuition increase, because of our increased costs, our universities are still going to have to come back and cut about $16 million combined across the system, from their budgets, to make them balance," said Marshall.

He said the schools are working on ways to control costs in purchasing and daily operations, and nearly all are examining energy conservation options. West Chester is converting heating and cooling to geothermal. With the tuition increase being implemented across the board, Marshall said it will be up to each university to decide the best way to rein in their costs.

"Frankly it may involve eliminating some projects they may have wanted to carry out. It might mean they have to delay purchasing some equipment that they might have wanted to replace or new equipment that they wanted to purchase. Some universities, in recent years, have left positions open, not hiring to replace employees when they retire or leave for whatever reason," he said.

Nearly 120,000 students are enrolled in the state universities at Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.