State university board votes to freeze tuition

Pennsylvania

The board that oversees Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities voted Wednesday to freeze tuition for the 2019-20 school year.

Basic tuition for in-state undergraduate students at the universities will remain at $7,716.

The board of governors of the State System of Higher Education voted unanimously in favor of the tuition freeze. The last time the board held the line on tuition was 1998-99.

“You’re trying to balance quality and access,” said Dan Greenstein, the chancellor of the PA State System of Higher Education. “Today’s decision is really influenced by what we need to do for our students.”

Even with this change, the board decided in April that universities will be able to pick their own prices starting in 2020.

Greenstein says in the meantime, raising tuition a few percent wouldn’t make a big difference to the state system’s $60 million deficit. He says there needs to be a strong partnership with the state.

This year, the state system requested $505 million from the state, and received $477 million.

While the vote to freeze tuition was unanimous, a few people shared some concern.

“This causes some notable change and pain associated with that,” said Sam Smith, the vice chair of the state system.

“It’s showing that we have committed to not putting this burden on the backs of students and going to the legislative leaders to advocate,” said Rep. Tim Briggs.

The system is hoping this change will help enrollment. In 2010, enrollment at state universities was almost 120,000 students. This year, it’s about 98,000.

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