Penn State trustees hike tuition rates

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SCRANTON, Pa. -- As promised during this year's state budget debate, Pennsylvania State University officials this afternoon approved tuition increases for the upcoming year by 2.4 percent across the school's campuses.

The vote to boost tuition came during the board of trustees meeting on the Penn State Worthington Scranton campus, one day after the release of an independent report charging that the board did not properly oversee top administrators leading up to the arrest and conviction of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

A student at the University Park flagship campus will see an increase of 2.9 percent over last year's tuition cost of $15,124. The increase is the lowest percentage tuition boost in 45 years and one of the smallest in the nation, according to university officials.

Tuition at the university's 19 branch campuses will increase by 1.9 percent, and out-of-state undergraduates at the main campus will pay 2.4 percent more in the upcoming school year.

Last year's larger hike of 4.9 percent for most of the school's in-state undergraduates followed a reduction in state aid of 20 percent, or about $68 million.

This spring, Penn State administrators, along with their counterparts at the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University, agreed to keep tuition hikes at or below the consumer price index if state lawmakers would maintain funding at current levels.

University president Rodney Erickson thanked the Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett for continuing the school's current funding in the budget approved last month.

"We recognize that there are many competing interests for limited state dollars, and we're committed to offering a superb return on that investment," Mr. Erickson said.

Trustees also are expected to approve several changes related to the board's internal operation, including shortening their 15-year term limits to 12 years and to allow limited public comment at board meetings.

Board chairwoman Karen Peetz opened the meeting by commending the report from investigator Louis Freeh, a former FBI director, and his team as providing recommendations that will help the university and its community to move beyond the Sandusky matter.

Ms. Peetz added that trustees would begin implementing those changes today, aiming "to ensure a collapse in leadership of this magnitude never happens again."

Additional steps also will be considered at the board's September meeting.

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Harrisburg Bureau Chief Laura Olson: lolson@post-gazette.com or 717-787-4254.


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