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Pa. universities freeze tuition, first time in 2 decades

Published July 11. 2019 12:29PM

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania students who attend one of the 14 state-owned universities won’t see higher tuition next year as a result of a board vote Wednesday, the first such freeze in more than 20 years.

The State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to keep in-state tuition flat at about $7,700. Nearly 90% of the system’s students hail from Pennsylvania.

The only other tuition freeze in the system’s 36-year history was for the 1998-99 school year, when the cost for in-state students was less than half what it is today.

The vote followed a lengthy discussion about an ongoing effort to redesign the system, and Chancellor Dan Greenstein recommended the freeze, referring to the impact of higher costs on students and the message that flat tuition would send lawmakers.

The decision leaves a projected budget hole of about $63 million that the system will have to address.

“The universities are aware that this budget gap cannot be fully funded by students,” Chairwoman Cindy Shapira told the board before the vote. “I know everyone is working very hard to reduce their cost structures through further implementation of activities that will reduce expenses and avoid costs to the extent possible.”

The universities have seen total enrollment fall over the past eight years from about 112,000 to just over 90,000.

“In a lot of parts of the state, you know, something as little as 100 or 200 dollars a year more can really make a difference” in affordability, said board member Brad Roae, a Republican state House member from Crawford County.

Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks, another board member, called the tuition freeze a “dramatic move” that sends a message to other lawmakers. She urged the board to push lawmakers for more support.

“This work has to start now, and we have to make the case that we are working to make this system the right system, the one that will bring Pennsylvania into the future,” Schwank said.

The vote will create “some notable pain and change associated with that” at most of the system’s schools, said board member Sam Smith, a retired Republican state representative and former House speaker from Jefferson County.

“I think that we all need to recognize that this is just the first dose of it,” Smith said.

The state government’s support for the system is rising by about 2% this year, to $477 million. The state paid 53% of the system’s costs in 1993, a figure that has since fallen to 27%.

Greenstein noted that enrollment is falling fastest among students from middle-income families, and higher costs make the schools less affordable and less accessible.

He said a tuition freeze is not sustainable, but fundamental changes to the structure of the university system could — over time — produce cost savings and drive up enrollment.

Next year, the system board will let its member schools set multiyear tuition, although the board will get the final say.

Comments
"state-owned universities"
That should send a chill up your spine!
John Dewey introduced himself to your child in kindergarten but you may not like it when you find out why.
A careful look at who influences our public education system, easily reveals why socialism is luring our American youth away from the American Ways of capitalism on a daily basis. The most influential man in public education was John Dewey... “the father of modern education.” Look at who he was. Look up who the Fabian Society is!
He believed that it was not possible to make socialists out of individuals. Therefore, developing children into being able to think for themselves would, as he put it, “spoil the harmony of the collective society.” This is were we are today folks! Common Core takes critical thinking out of the equation! The public schools teach what to think, not how to think. Wake up folks, were is it all coming from?
Follow the money folks. $360 million federal dollars went to the states that wrote the new Common Core tests.
Bottom line? Socialism has a grip on our public education system that will not be easily loosened, because the university mold the minds of our Public (government) School Teachers (mush brains).
And you all sleep well knowing we have "State-Owned Universities" ?
No Thanks!
In 1950, just 3.4% of the generation went to university. Today, 50% and 60% of each generation goes to university. Heck, let's make it free so we can finally make socialists out of the individual... John Dewey's dream coming true!
Bernie... Bernie... Bernie...
Wake up people!

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