Tuition will increase by 3 percent for Pennsylvania's 14 public universities for the 2013-14 academic year, according to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
The system's Board of Governors yesterday approved a $194 tuition increase for each of the schools, resulting in a yearly tuition of $6,622 for a full-time, in-state undergrad.
The system said it will receive $412.8 million in state funding this year, the same amount as last year, which covers about one-fourth of the schools' operating costs. The tuition increase was put in place to keep up with inflation, health care and salaries, among other expenses, said Kenn Marshall, spokesman for the PSSHE.
"It's a difficult balancing act that we have to do," he said.
But the reality is college costs are a significant challenge to a lot of students and their families, so it's important to hold tuition costs down to the greatest extent possible, Marshall said.
"We are to provide high-quality education at the lowest possible costs," he said. "We make sure that every qualified Pennsylvanian who wants to attend college can afford to do so."
In the past 10 years, tuition hikes have ranged from 2 to 4.5 percent, except in 2011-12, which saw a 7.5 increase due to massive cuts in state funding, Marshall said.
'Ridiculous': There is a mixed reaction from school leaders and students.
Total increase in cost to attend Millersville University, including tuition and fees, will go up $326 this year.
"It's both good and bad," said Roger Bruszewski, the school's vice president for finance and administration. "Bad news is, we don't have enough revenue to cover our expenditures. The good news is, the cost is gonna be kept very low for parents and students."
Millersville works very hard to trim the budget each year and keep costs low for its students, he said.
"We'll do the best we can, and we'll do all the things we can to make it work," he said. "We don't have a choice. We have to make it work."
But Millersville junior Tim Purcell has a different opinion.
"The way that tuition keeps going up is kind of ridiculous, because by the time our kids go to college, who knows what it's going to be," the 20-year-old said.
Purcell, of Windsor Township, is majoring in international studies and realizes the value of a college degree, he said.
"I still feel like education is worth it," he said. "You're just going to have a much harder time paying it off."
As the state schools try to balance their budgets, state-related Penn State and its branch campuses, including York, have not yet set tuition rates for the coming school year. They will be finalized at a Board of Trustees meeting on Friday, said Penn State York spokeswoman Barbara Dennis.
Increases all over: York College, a private institution, set its tuition rates back in February, and they will increase by $490, which is also about 3 percent. That is the lowest dollar increase in about 10 years, said Stephen Neitz, assistant dean for enrollment management.
"As we talk about cost related to tuition, we recognize the environment that families are in and know that the idea of tuition hikes are very sensitive," he said.
In effect, the college tries to stay competitive with prices, which are close to half of what other private colleges charge, he said. It is recognized by national media and individual families as an outstanding value, he said.
"What students get is an educational investment here at York College," Neitz said. "And their continuing investment over a four-year period of time and what they have when they leave here."
Here is the yearly cost of tuition and related fees for an in-state undergraduate at some local area schools:
Millersville - 2012-13: $8,600; 2013-14: $8,926.50 (an increase of $326.50)
Shippensburg University - 2012-13: $9,154; 2013-14: 9,448 (an increase of $294)
York College (private) - 2012-13: $16,520; 2013-14: $17,010 (an increase of $490)
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