State univer­si­ties freeze tu­ition, a 1st in 20 years

Stu­dents who at­tend one of the 14 sta­te­owned univer­si­ties won’t see higher tu­ition next year.

The Times-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - BY MARK SCOLFORO

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.

“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.”

“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.

“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.

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