Students at state-owned universities will see another tuition hike for the upcoming academic year.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) approved a 3 percent tuition increase Tuesday for all of its 14 academic universities.
The rise is expected to generate an additional $27 million in revenue.
Even with the $97 per semester increase, PASSHE schools are still the least expensive in the state, costing $6,622 for the full academic year. Last year, the average tuition for a public university stood at $22,261, according to education planning and preparation website “College Board.”
PASSHE spokesman Kenn Marshall said utility costs and salary increases are among the reasons for the increase.
“We’re facing higher costs pretty much like everyone else,” Marshall said. “Our most significant cost drivers are in areas of health care and pension contributions. I think it’s well known that pension costs are impacting all state agencies, and they impact us just the same.”
The 10 percent of PASSHE students who come from outside Pennsylvania will see an increase of around $300 to $500 per year depending on their state of residence or their academic program. Out-of-state students pay anywhere between 1.5 and 2.5 times the cost of in-state tuition.
Although PASSHE’s tuition has risen at an average rate of 2 to 4 percent over the last 10 years, according to Marshall, the state system has been able to reduce its budget by about $285 million dollars by redesigning employee contracts, making changes in healthcare coverage and “better purchasing practices.”
“It’s a very deliberate effort to control costs and to look for every possible way to save money in areas that don’t impact students,” Marshall said. “Purchasing in greater bulk, purchasing off of state contracts — those don’t impact students, but they do save money.”
He said classes with little student interest are put on suspension or eliminated. Last year, close to 24 programs were either suspended or eliminated and replaced by 12 new programs in an effort to reduce costs while advancing education.
PASSHE will receive $412.8 million in state funding this year, the same amount as last year. This funding will cover one-fourth of the operating cost of the 14 universities.
The board also approved raising resident graduate tuition by $13 per credit and nonresident graduate tuition by $19 per credit.
The cost of a college degree has increased nationally 1,120 percent since 1978, according to 2012 Bloomberg report.