The Board of Governors of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education approved a small increase in tuition for the 2018-19 academic year.
The increase is the second smallest in over 10 years for PASSHE and was approved back on June 12. Board of Governors Chairperson Cynthia Shapira brought attention toward the affordability of PASSHE schools compared to other universities.
“I continue to be impressed with how our universities are able to offer an excellent higher education experience at a cost that is so much lower than other universities,” Shapira said. “Providing high-quality, high-value education is our mission. Ensuring student success is our top priority, and we are also committed to the success of each of our institutions.”
The 14 state system universities saw a $118 per semester increase. This number amounts to a less than three percent jump from last year. According to the official press release from last month, this was possible because of four consecutive years of increased state funding, in conjunction with savings expected for healthcare and energy costs.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is contributing $468 million, a $15 million from 2017-18. This will be the largest block of funding provided for the more than 100,000 students enrolled in PASSHE institutions. According to the PASSHE website, the current appropriation from the Commonwealth is about the same as it was in 2006-07 prior to the economic recession.
Tuition increases are expected to reduce the projected budget deficit this year to approximately $20 million. Universities within the state system will have to continue to make cuts, according to PASSHE’s website. Over the past 12 years, PASSHE schools have had to reduce expenditures more than $360 million to try and make up for a growing deficit.
Interim Chancellor Sharon Whitney said in July that the Board of Governors is continuing to explore avenues to help alleviate the financial strain on universities within the system. Currently, PASSHE utilizes a significant amount of state and local government contacts to produce additional savings.
“Because we are a single system, we are able to generate significant savings through sharing and combining services,” Whitney said. “We will continue to look for additional way to maximize these kinds of cost-saving opportunities as part of our system redesign.”