Trustees looking at tuition increases

Penn State’s Board of Trustees will vote today on proposed tuition increases across the university’s 19 undergraduate campuses.

The university touted last year’s increases as its lowest percentage increases since 1967. Penn State is touting this year’s proposed hikes, ranging from less than 2 percent to 3.4 percent, as the second lowest percentage increases since 1967.

Tuition at the Altoona campus and four other campuses is proposed to go up 2.45 percent, or $160 per semester, for students from Pennsylvania.

For many students and parents preparing to take out loans for this school year, the tuition increase might not cause a noticeable change in the amount borrowed compared with last year.

However, for Penn State Altoona student Phil Koontz, who works his way through college and receives federal student aid and some help from his parents, the $160 increase per semester means three more days of work, he said.

“I don’t think it is a big increase. They do a lot for us on campus. The price of everything is going up,” Koontz said.

The proposed increase reflects rising costs of energy, employee compensation, health care and retirement contributions, Penn State spokesman Reidar Jensen said.

For the University Park campus, the proposed tuition increase is 3.39 percent, or $264 per semester for sophomore and freshman students from Pennsylvania. Nonresident students would pay 2.87 percent, or $400 per semester, more under the recommendation.

Aside from Altoona and four other campuses, tuition for Pennsylvania resident and nonresident undergraduate students will increase less than 2 percent at the remaining 15 of Penn State’s undergraduate campuses, under the recommendation to trustees.

“We continue to acknowledge the impact of adverse demographics of high school-age students particularly in western Pennsylvania, while recognizing that adult students in Pennsylvania may find Penn State of interest to them as they consider changing careers or furthering their education,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a university statement.

Approval of the tuition rate would fulfill a commitment to Gov. Tom Corbett and Pennsylvania legislators to keep tuition rates as low as possible in exchange for no reduction in state appropriations.

For the new budget year the state’s general support appropriation, which chiefly offsets the cost of tuition for Pennsylvania resident students, is just below the total received in 1995, when the university educated 20,000 fewer students.