UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s 2018-19 general support appropriation increased by 3 percent — or roughly $6.9 million — as the University’s non-preferred appropriations bill today (June 22) passed the General Assembly and was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf as part of Pennsylvania’s $32.7 billion budget package.
With the increased appropriation, Penn State President Eric Barron will recommend to the Board of Trustees a University budget that won’t raise tuition for Pennsylvania resident undergraduates for the 2018-19 academic year, the second such tuition freeze in four years.
Barron said that controlling the cost of tuition has been an ongoing effort at Penn State, and a priority identified by its board of trustees. The board will consider the budget and tuition proposal when it convenes in July.
“This increased funding is critically important to Penn State’s mission to provide a world-class education to all qualified Pennsylvanians,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “We thank the General Assembly, in particular Sen. Jake Corman, and Gov. Wolf for their support of Penn State, as the Commonwealth’s continued investment will aid in our efforts to keep a Penn State degree accessible and affordable for Pennsylvania students and their families, while also continuing the top-notch quality of our academic programs. As a result of the state’s increased support, I will be recommending to the Board of Trustees a budget that includes no tuition increase for resident undergraduate students at all of our campuses.”
While the proposal would freeze tuition for all in-state undergraduates, University leadership remains committed to keeping tuition increases as modest as possible for out-of-state students as well.
Penn State’s general support appropriation, which is used primarily to offset the cost of tuition for Pennsylvania students, increased to $237.3 million, up from $230.4 million in 2017-18. The University’s overall 2018-19 state appropriation totals $327.4 million and includes:
— $53.9 million for Penn State Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension, representing an increase of 3 percent, or $1.6 million. These programs serve citizens and the agricultural industry in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.
— $22.7 million for the Pennsylvania College of Technology, representing an increase of 3 percent, or $700,000. Penn College is a wholly owned subsidiary of Penn State with a focus on applied technology education.
— Level funding of $13.4 million for Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
Penn State last froze tuition for resident undergraduate students in 2015-16, followed by modest 1.76 percent and 2.45 percent aggregate tuition increases for Pennsylvania undergraduates in 2016-17 and 2017-18, respectively. The University also has not raised tuition for in-state undergraduate students at eight Commonwealth Campuses — Beaver, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Allegheny, Mont Alto, New Kensington, Shenango and Wilkes-Barre — for the last three years.
Barron noted that the proposed tuition freeze for Pennsylvania undergraduates is one part of the University’s holistic approach to controlling the cost of a Penn State education.
To reduce the time and cost needed to obtain a degree, Penn State also has enacted a variety of initiatives focused on increasing student retention and graduation, ensuring timely graduation, decreasing the rate of student borrowing, and decreasing the rate of attrition due to financial challenges. Among these initiatives are the Pathway to Success Summer Start program, which provides students with a scholarship to take summer classes while earning additional money through on-campus employment, and the Student Transitional Experiences Program, which offers financial, mentoring and networking support for students transitioning to University Park from a Commonwealth Campus.
Additionally, Penn State has and continues to remain vigilant in controlling and reducing costs over the past 25 years, choosing to cut or reallocate funds rather than pass along all cost increases to students. These fiscal measures have resulted in nearly $404 million in cuts to recurring costs since 1992, including $21 million in the 2017-18 operating budget alone, and have defrayed costs to students without compromising the quality of Penn State’s academic programs.
With the University’s state appropriation set, Penn State’s proposed operating budget and tuition schedules for 2018-19 will be presented to the Board of Trustees for consideration at the body’s next meeting, scheduled for July 19-20 at Penn State Berks in Reading.