Shippensburg University, 13 others, expected to increase tuition prices

Written by Staff Reports, Public Opinion Online | Jul 10, 2015 1:30 PM
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(Harrisburg) -- Students attending Shippensburg University and the other 13 state universities will pay $240 more in annual tuition in the 2015-16 academic year.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's Board of Governors approved the tuition increase on Thursday while pledging to continue to seek additional state funding to support universities' operations.

The board approved the tuition increase despite a state budget not yet being approved.

The 14 state system universities -- including Shippensburg University -- have made more than $270 million in combined budget cuts over the last decade and would need to make another $30 million in additional cuts next year if state funding is not increased, according to a media release. The state system has not received a state funding increase in seven years -- putting funding at the same level as 17 years ago in 1997-98.

"Even with the modest tuition increase we approved today, the universities still would need to make significant budget cuts without any increased funding from the state again next year," said Board of Governors Chairman Guido M. Pichini. "We will continue to talk with the Governor and the Legislature to seek their support on behalf of our students and their families."

The last increase in state funding to the system came in 2007-08. Since then the system's appropriation has been cut three times. For the 2011-12 budget year, appropriations were cut 19 by percent. The system has received the same amount of funding for the past four years.

The Board of Governors voted to set tuition for next year without a state budget in place, at least in part because of the large deficits the universities face. Without a tuition increase, and without an increase in state support, the universities would need to cut their budgets by a combined $66.8 million this year.

The action taken by the board Thursday sets next year's base full-time tuition rate for Pennsylvania residents -- about 90 percent of all state system students -- at $7,060. Even with the increase, the state system universities will remain the lowest-cost option among all four-year colleges and universities in the state, according to the media release.

The tuition increase will provide about half of the additional funds the universities need to balance their budgets. Significant cost increases are expected this year in several areas, including healthcare and pension contributions, over which the universities essentially have no control. Most of the universities also are expecting their enrollments to decline slightly as the number of high school graduates in the state continues to drop, which will result in reduced revenue.

"Our university leadership, especially our presidents, should be commended for everything they have done to control costs and to continue to ensure their institutions are providing a high-quality, high-value education to students," Pichini said. "It is essential the state continues its investment in the State System, and increase that investment for the benefit not just of our students, but the entire Commonwealth."

Full-time, tuition for out-of-state students will range from about $7,413 to $17,650.

"The education our universities provide continues to represent a tremendous value," said State System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan. "The quality of programming remains high, and the array of academic programs that is offered is continually being enhanced and redesigned to meet the needs of employers across Pennsylvania and the nation."

This article comes to us through a partnership between the Public Opinion Online and WITF. 

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