The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Board of Governors voted Thursday against raising tuition for the third year in a row.
Thomas Muller, chair of the university success committee, said he wrestled with the decision to freeze tuition again, knowing some presidents favored the planned increase of 1% – an average of $82 per student. While the state system works through a pandemic and system redesign, keeping higher education affordable for students remained the priority, Muller said.
“I share [Daniel Greenstein’s] opinion that we can’t keep loading costs onto our students,” Muller said.
The freeze will keep tuition at $7,716 a year, along with the technology fee at $478 a year.
The 14 universities within the system are allowed to make their own proposals for changes to tuition, which no universities did. SRU President William Behre said he did not submit a proposal for the 1% increase because he believed they were only required when deviating from the system’s planning.
“It’s your right to hold the system to zero, then it’s your responsibility to minimize cost increases,” Behre said. “If I had known that, I would have had to ask for the 1% that we were planning on, I would have that.”
Along with the tuition freeze, the board approved a recommended freeze for the following fiscal year. That freeze will be voted on next year.
The state system appointed Mansfield University (MU) President Charles Patterson as the interim president for Shippensburg University (SU). Last month, SU President Laurie Carter announced she accepted an offer from Lawrence University in Wisconsin to serve as their president.
By appointing Patterson as president, the system will save money from completing a search and ensure continued momentum for Mansfield and Shippensburg Universities if the integration of the schools is approved, Board Chair Cindy Shapira said.
Patterson will take over the SU role on June 1. At that time, an interim president for MU is expected to be named. Both Mansfield and Shippensburg Universities are part of the planned system redesign in the east.
No other plans were announced regarding the system redesign. The board is expected to meet later this month for a presentation of the proposed plan.
After that proposal, there will be a 60-day period for the public to comment on the plan. Once the comment period closes, the board will be able to meet and vote on whether to move forward with the redesign.