Penn State trustees approve tuition hike

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Penn State University may regain its former distinction as the most expensive public university in the nation.

University trustees, meeting in Uniontown today, approved an aggregate 2.76 tuition increase for the 2013-2014 school year. The University of Pittsburgh earlier this year had passed Penn State as the most expensive public university in the country, but today's action by PSU trustees could put the 96,000-student system back on top.

The budget and executive committees of the Pitt board of trustees are scheduled to meet Wednesday morning.

PSU President Rodney Erickson characterized the aggregate tuition increase, or $425 per academic year, as "low." He explained it would be the second-lowest percentage increase in 45 years --- the exception being last year.

Trustees are meeting this afternoon at Penn State Fayette, the Eberly Campus, in Uniontown.

The tuition increase they approved vary by campus, from nearly 3.4 percent to less than 1 percent, for the 2013-2014 academic year.

There was little discussion during the open meeting before the vote.

Newly elected alumni trustee Ted Brown expressed concern that the in-state tuition increase is higher than the inflation rate.

Mr. Erickson responded by saying that the grand challenge is to not make comparisons but to continue enhancing student learning while holding down costs.

"We can't price out education on the market," Mr. Erickson said, noting that a decrease in the number of high school graduates in the state has reduced the pool of prospective students.

And decreased funding from the state has not helped, he continued.

Tuition increases were kept low because of an agreement in February between public university leaders and Gov. Tom Corbett to tuition increases in return for being spared additional cuts in state aid.

Students on Penn State's University Park campus will see the largest increase, 3.39 percent. Freshmen and sophomores from Pennsylvania will pay an additional $528 per year, totaling $16,090 for the academic year. Underclassmen from outside of the state will pay an extra $800 per year, totaling $28,664 for the academic year, at a rate increase of 2.87 percent.

Tuition will increase by 2.45 percent, or $320 per year, at the Altoona, Berks, Erie and Harrisburg campuses. At Abington, Brandywine, Hazelton, Lehigh Valley, Schuylkill, Worthington, Scranton and York, the increase is 1.85 percent or $232 per year. At Beaver, Dubois, Greater Allegheny, Fayette and New Kensington, the increase is 0.75 percent, or $94 per year.

There will be no tuition increase at Penn State Shenango.

Tuition for juniors and seniors varies by major, but it is close to the amount underclassmen pay.

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Jessica Tully: jtully@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1159 and on Twitter: @jessalynn4.


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