Lock Haven — The Board of Governors of Pennsylvania’s System of Higher Education is considering a tuition freeze — but only if the state provides sufficient funding for it.
The council’s announcement came on Thursday, when it announced it would set tuition fees in July after the Commonwealth completes its budget process.
Tuition for in-state undergraduate students — 90 percent of Pennsylvanians — was $7,716 for five years (2018-19-2024-23), making the total price of attendance 13 percent lower than it was in 2019-20 when adjusted for FOR INFLATION, ACCORDING TO EDIT FROM PASSHE.
The Chair of the Board of Governors, Cynthia D. “We are grateful for our strong partnership with the state and hope for the additional investment needed to enable more students of the state system to become nurses and teachers and enter other in-demand occupations that enhance the workforce.”
PASSHE requests a government financing package that provides an inflationary boost of $21 million (3.8 percent) — in addition to $112 million in targeted student support — that will strategically increase financial assistance for students preparing for jobs with labor shortages (teachers, nurses, physician assistants, social services, and business and STEM fields, including computer science and engineering).
“The state system’s universities offer degrees for the most in-demand professions at the lowest cost to students and provide the best return on investment for the state,” said Chancellor Dan Greenstein. Our universities are the most cost-effective way to address the shortage of teachers, nurses, STEM specialists, and social service professionals, and the need for more business and community leaders. We are proud of our partnership with the state, and are ready and willing to prepare more people for high-growth, in-demand jobs. This is a huge opportunity to support the country’s economy, but its realization requires government investment.”
According to a statement by PASSHE, it states that education costs are “directly affected by state funding.”
“Tuition fees are directly related to the level of government funding PASSHE receives, which decreased by $236 million (30 percent) from 2000-2001 in inflation-adjusted dollars,” the statement reads. “Pennsylvania ranks 47th among states in funding to four-year public colleges and universities.”
According to PASSHE, the tuition increase is preventing low- and middle-income students from attending college or graduating — causing some students to leave the state for higher education.
“Prior to 2019, chronic funding shortfalls increased tuition, resulting in a steady decline in enrollment for the percentage of PASSHE students with home incomes of less than $75,000,” the statement reads. “Penn State will struggle to address a labor shortage if students are low- and middle-income — they can’t afford the education needed to succeed in many professions.”
By holding tuition fees at $7,716 for five years, PASSHE Universities gave up $80 million in potential revenue during that time, while providing $110 million in university-funded financial aid this year, according to the statement.
Bashi said public universities cut $300 million in operating costs for three years to avoid previous tuition increases.
“Additional operational reductions are not sustainable and may affect the student experience,” the statement read.
In a further action, the Board of Governors agreed to extend Chancellor Greenstein’s contract for five years, the maximum length allowed by PASSHE’s enabling law.
“This board made a bold decision in appointing Dan five years ago because of our commitment to redesigning this system to ensure affordable public higher education thrives in Pennsylvania,” Shapira said. “We remain committed to this mission and are pleased that he will continue to lead the way.”
Greenstein became PASSHE’s fifth chancellor on September 4, 2018.