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POWER & PROMISE
– The Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education today expressed its desire to freeze tuition again if the state provides sufficient funding this year. The Board will set tuition in July after the commonwealth completes the budget process.
Tuition for in-state undergraduate students – 90% are Pennsylvania residents – has been $7,716 for five years (2018-19 – 2022-23), making the total price of attendance 13% lower than in 2019-20 when adjusted for inflation.
“We are committed to keeping tuition as low as possible, have every desire to freeze tuition, and will continue working with state leaders to secure investment in students at state-owned public universities,” said Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia D. Shapira. “We are thankful for our strong partnership with the state and hopeful for the additional investment needed to enable more State System students to become nurses, teachers and enter other in-demand jobs that strengthen the workforce.”
PASSHE is requesting a state funding package that provides an inflationary increase of $21 million (3.8%) that—in combination with $112 million in targeted student support—would strategically increase financial aid for students preparing for jobs with worker shortages (teachers, nursing and physician assistants, social services, business and STEM fields, including computer science and engineering).
“State System universities offer degrees for the most in-demand careers at the lowest cost for students and provide the best return on investment for the state,” said Chancellor Dan Greenstein. “Our universities are the most cost-efficient way to tackle shortages of teachers, nurses, STEM and social services professionals, and the need for more business and community leaders.
“We are proud of our partnership with the state, and we’re primed and ready to prepare more people for in-demand, high-growth jobs. This is a tremendous opportunity to support the state’s economy, but it requires state investment to achieve.”
State funding directly impacts tuition rates
The tuition price is directly related to the level of state funding PASSHE receives, which is down $236 million (30%) from 2000-01 in inflation-adjusted dollars. Pennsylvania ranks 47th among the states for funding of four-year public colleges and universities.
Increasing tuition prevents many low- and middle-income students from starting college or graduating and causes other students to leave Pennsylvania for higher education contributing to brain drain.
Before 2019, chronic underfunding forced tuition increases, which led to a steady enrollment decrease in the proportion of PASSHE students with household incomes under $75,000. Pennsylvania will struggle to tackle worker shortages if low- and middle-income students cannot afford the education necessary to succeed in many careers.
By holding tuition at $7,716 for five years, State System universities have forgone $80 million in potential revenue over that time, while providing $110 million in university-funded financial aid this year. Together, that is a huge savings for students, but it cost universities nearly $200 million.
The State System universities also have cut $300 million in operational costs over the past three years to help avoid previous tuition increases. Additional operational cuts are not sustainable and would risk impacting the student experience.
Board renews Chancellor Greenstein’s contract
In another action, the Board of Governors approved a five-year extension of Chancellor Greenstein’s contract, which is the maximum length allowed by PASSHE's enabling statute.
“This board made a bold decision in hiring Dan five years ago because of our commitment to redesigning this system to ensure affordable public higher education can thrive in Pennsylvania,” said Shapira. “We remain committed to that mission and are pleased that he will continue to lead the way.”
Greenstein became PASSHE’s fifth chancellor Sept. 4, 2018.
Syed R. Ali-Zaidi Award
The Board recognized Jocelyn Brown of West Chester University as the 2023 winner of the Syed R. Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence. Jocelyn is a political science international relations major with minors in global studies, civil and professional leadership, and philosophy. She will graduate in May with a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA (summa cum laude) and has earned a place on the dean’s list every semester.
The Ali-Zaidi award is presented annually to a graduating senior at a PASSHE university to recognize outstanding academic achievement and participation in extra- and co-curricular activities. The award was established in 2001 and is named in honor of Syed R. Ali-Zaidi, a founding member of the State System’s Board of Governors. Each university president recommends a candidate for the award.
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