Pennsylvania state universities considering tuition freeze, which would be the first time in more than 20 years

Pennsylvania’s 14 state universities are considering freezing tuition for the first time in more than 20 years, the state system spokesman said this week.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors will meet Wednesday in Harrisburg to vote on tuition, and David Pidgeon, the spokesman, said a freeze for in-state students is one of multiple options being considered.

“We are taking a real hard look at that,” Pidgeon said. “Attending a public university in Pennsylvania has to be high quality but it also has to be affordable. We are certainly conscious of the time that has passed since the last time tuition was frozen.”

If base tuition is frozen, in-state students, who make up nearly 90% of PASSHE’S nearly 100,000 enrollment, would pay $7,716 for the 2019-20 year, the same as in 2018-19. The board also will consider freezing fees, he said.

Out-of-state students pay between $11,574 and $19,290, Pidgeon said. It’s not clear what, if any, increase they could face.

PASSHE received a 2% increase in state funding under the recently passed budget. The appropriation was $477 million, less than the $505.8 million the system requested.

PASSHE’s decision comes as its officials continue to work on a system redesign in the face of falling enrollment and tight finances. Enrollment in 2018-19 fell under 100,000 for the first time since 2001.

Cheyney, a historically black university, has faced particularly hard challenges that have left its accreditation in question. The Legislature approved an additional $1.7 million to support Cheyney’s Keystone Honors Academy, which provides full scholarships to academically gifted students. The academy received an appropriation of $3.98 million. That additional funding is not a part of PASSHE’s main appropriation.

*story by The Morning Call