Nearly 115,000 students attending Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities would see their yearly tuition rise by 3 percent effective this fall if the system's board of governors, meeting today, approves a recommendation from its finance committee.
The $194 increase unveiled by the committee Monday in Harrisburg would bring the in-state student tuition rate to $6,622 for the 2013-14 academic year, and in doing so generate approximately $21 million in additional revenue, according to State System spokesman Kenn Marshall.
Even with that extra income, the State System of Higher Education still would face a roughly $56 million shortfall in its proposed budget of about $1.6 billion. That likely would be offset by spending cuts on the 14 campuses including California, Clarion, Edinboro, Indiana and Slippery Rock universities in Western Pennsylvania.
In recent years, the State System has coped with financial stresses, including a state appropriation approved this year of $412.8 million for the universities' education and general needs, a sum 18 percent less than those schools received in 2010-11.
In February, Gov. Tom Corbett pledged no additional cuts in 2013-14 for the State System or other public universities in return for a commitment by campus leaders to minimize any tuition increases.
This year's proposed 3 percent boost mirrors last year's tuition increase for the State System, which at the time was the lowest in three years.
Enrollment trends have further complicated the State System's finances. This year, like last, the State System expects fewer students on its campuses due to factors including a reduction in the number of high school graduates in the state, particularly the western counties.
State System enrollment peaked at 119,513 students in 2010-11 and by 2012-13 dipped to 114,784.
Over the past decade, the State System universities have responded to tightened finances by realizing cost savings of $220 million, a figure that includes cutting or keeping unfilled about 900 positions systemwide.
The system has offered retirement incentives to its employees, engaged in joint purchasing, turned to more energy-efficient systems, sought savings from its unions and delayed equipment purchases and maintenance.
In other board action slated for today, members are expected to consider a proposal for a new MBA program to be delivered by Slippery Rock University at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry.education - state
Bill Schackner: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG.