Pennsylvania students attending state-funded universities will see a 3 percent increase on their tuition bills for the 2014-15 school year.
Funding for the 14 schools in the state budget awaiting Gov. Tom Corbett's signature is about $412.7 million, the same amount the state universities have received since the 2011-12 school year.
The increase means the base tuition rate for each of the schools will jump $198, or $99 per semester. That means the cost of tuition at state universities will start at $3,410 per semester. General fees and room and board costs vary depending on the school.
But a new payment program at Millersville University will now have undergraduate students paying per credit, instead of the flat fee, which could equal a 20 percent increase for students taking 15 credits.
The new "consumption" model means students pay for what they receive, said Roger Bruszewski, vice president for finance and administration at Millersville.
The tuition rate set for the 14 state universities is based on full-time students taking 12 credits. But many Millersville students take 14 or 15 credits per semester.
"It was sort of 'you buy four courses, you get one free' kind of thing," Bruszewski said.
The per-credit amount at each state school next year will be $284. Millersville reduced that by $20 to $264, which is the fee per credit each student will be charged.
If a student takes 12 credits, tuition will go down compared to other state schools, to $3,168. But if a student takes 13 credits or more, they'll get a higher bill — $3,960 per semester for 15 credits. That's up from $3,311 per semester last year.
Financial aid: To offset the higher cost students might see, the university also added $1.1 million into scholarship packages for students who demonstrate financial need, Bruszewski said. The university plans to have the individual scholarship awards updated before students receive their bills for the fall semester when they're mailed July 18, he added.
The new method of payment is more in line with how community colleges and online schools charge students, Bruszewski said. Plus, it provides a better payment model for online courses and for part-time students, including adults wishing to complete their degrees. Bruszewski said the university plans to start concerted efforts to attract more students in both of those groups in the coming years.
The program will only be in effect for in-state undergraduates, Bruszewski said. Out-of-state students will still pay a flat fee, and graduate students have always paid per credit. Previously approved fees, including the $368 technology fee and roughly $9,884 for room and board, will not change.
Other schools: The per-credit fees are in a two-year pilot program for the state schools, Bruszewski said, adding Clarion University is doing a similar pilot. Millersville will track enrollment and other factors and report to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, the organization that sets the tuition for state schools each year.
The tuition increase will likely affect students differently, said Pete Gigliotti, spokesman for Shippensburg University. But the school still provides a nationally-recognized education for a fraction of the price of schools not funded by the state, he said.
"We still feel that we are a very affordable higher education institution," Gigliotti said.
The state-funded schools include the Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester universities.