For the first time in nearly 50 years, state residents attending Pennsylvania State University will not face a tuition increase for the upcoming academic year.
Reversing a proposal announced on Thursday that would have raised tuition 2.7 percent for state residents attending the main campus, Penn State President Eric Barron on the floor of a board of trustees meeting on Friday afternoon announced the freeze. That's $450 or more that undergraduate students will keep in their pockets, depending on their year in school and major.
In-state freshmen and sophomores at the University Park campus will pay $16,572 in tuition for the second consecutive year. Tuition also is frozen for upperclassmen; their tuition amounts vary based on their majors.
The board of trustees unanimously approved the freeze Friday afternoon.
"As the cost of a public university degree continues to rise nationwide in the face of stagnant and declining state support, it is incumbent upon us to do all that we can to keep a Penn State degree within reach of every qualified Pennsylvanian," Barron said in a statement following the vote.
About 72 percent of Penn State students are Pennsylvania residents, according to statistics on the university's web site.
Students at eight branch campuses were promised a zero increase in the previous proposal and will keep it. At the other undergraduate branch campuses, the increases were to be smaller, but now also will be zero for Pennsylvania residents.
Out of state students at University Park will pay a 2.99 percent tuition increase, and out of state students at the branch campuses face increases ranging from zero to 2.4 percent.
"We have an historic 49 year date for freezing tuition for Pennsylvania residents," Barron said, addressing the board.
The president's announcement came during his regular presentation. It followed a private meeting of trustees on Friday morning where the tuition increase was discussed.
Barron will address the decision to freeze tuition at a press conference later this afternoon.
Earlier this year, Barron pledged to freeze tuition if Gov. Wolf's plan to raise state funding by 11 percent were approved. The legislature has yet to vote on a state budget and Penn State officials are assuming a 3 percent increase in state funding in their budget.
It's not clear what caused Barron to reverse his proposal from earlier this week.
Spokesman Lawrence Lokman said: Barron, the board and top financial officials "had further discussions - looking for ways to do all we can on affordability."
To accommondate the tuition freeze, the university will need to cut $17 million from its $4.9 billion budget to make up the revenue. The university has not identified where those cuts will be made.
Several board members endorsed the freeze on the floor of the meeting.
"I can't thank you enough and congratulate you enough for making a zero increase happen," said trustee Ted Brown.
Barron said the efforts to control educational costs won't stop with this budget.
"We don't intend to rest with this budget," Barron said.