Board of Governors approves new tuition policy, offering universities greater flexibility in setting rates

Tuition to be set earlier each year, providing students, families more time to plan, greater predictability

Contact: Kenn Marshall, (717) 720-4054

Harrisburg – The Board of Governors of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education today approved a new tuition policy giving the 14 state-owned universities more flexibility in the way tuition is set each year. The new policy also calls for tuition to be tentatively set two years at a time—with a final figure due each year by April instead of July—to provide students and families more time to plan and greater predictability about their cost of attendance.

Under the policy, which was developed based on the recommendations of a broad-based task group established as part of the ongoing System Redesign, the universities will be able to craft their own tuition plans, taking into consideration regional economic differences, such as household income, cost of living and regional buying power; individual program costs; and the specific needs of potential students, including their ability to pay. Each university’s plan will require Board approval before being implemented.

“This policy will allow the universities to better plan, budget and allocate their resources over multiple years, helping to ensure their long-term stability and success,” said Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia D. Shapira. “By making tuition more predictable, it will allow students to plan for their education expenses. Most important, it will help ensure qualified students from all socioeconomic backgrounds have access to high-value, relevant educational experiences that prepare them for successful lives and careers.”

The universities will have about a year to develop their own tuition plans and submit them to the Board for approval. The individual pricing plans could take effect as early as the fall 2020 semester. The Board will continue to set a base tuition rate each year for those universities that choose not to design their own tuition plans, or need more time.

The new tuition policy is a key component of the System Redesign, a transformative process that began nearly two years ago and that ultimately will result in what Chancellor Daniel Greenstein has termed a “sharing system” designed specifically around the needs of students.

“In a sharing system, the universities will work more closely together, expanding educational opportunities for students while ensuring the programs they offer align even more closely with workforce needs,” Greenstein said. “They will combine and share more of their business and administrative functions, enabling the universities to reduce their cost of operations and become more cost-efficient so all of us will be better equipped to focus on our top priority—student success.”

Several task groups comprising a broad range of campus constituencies, including students, faculty, staff and administrators, have been created to work on various aspects of the redesign. The Collaborative Pricing and Regional Affordability Task Group studied tuition-related issues, developing a concept paper that included a series of recommendations for the Board to consider in writing the new tuition policy. The task group’s report and a draft version of the policy were posted on the System Redesign website and shared widely with various stakeholder groups for additional comment and review before the policy was finalized and voted on by the Board.

Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education comprises 14 public universities, which combined enroll the largest number of Pennsylvania residents among all four-year colleges and universities in the Commonwealth. With nearly 100,000 degree-seeking students and thousands more enrolled in certificate and other career-development programs, the State System is a vital contributor to the Pennsylvania economy, generating an estimated $6.7 billion of economic activity annually. Collectively, the State System universities offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas. The universities have nearly 800,000 living alumni, the vast majority of whom reside in Pennsylvania.
The State System is undertaking a redesign, guided by three priorities: ensuring student success; leveraging the universities’ strengths; and transforming the System’s governance structure. The Board also affirmed its commitment to ensuring the long-term sustainability of its member institutions so that each may continue to serve students, its region and the Commonwealth. To view regular updates of the redesign, go to http://systemredesign.passhe.edu.
The State System universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. The universities also operate branch campuses in Oil City (Clarion), Freeport and Punxsutawney (IUP), and Clearfield (Lock Haven), and offer classes and programs at several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and in Center City in Philadelphia.