With news of a proposed 3 percent increase in state funding, Pennsylvania State University president Eric Barron said Wednesday that he will recommend no tuition hike for state residents for 2018-19 if the current state budget proposal is approved.
It would be only the second time in more than 50 years that in-state students would face no tuition increase systemwide. Out-of-state students, about 30 percent of Penn State's student body, could get an increase.
The tuition freeze would be in effect for all of Penn State's campuses.The board of trustees is to consider the proposal at its meetings on July 19 and 20.
"We are encouraged by the direction of these conversations," said Mark Dambly, chairman of Penn State's trustees. "If this proposal were to proceed, we look forward to considering president Barron's recommendations at our upcoming meeting."
The legislature and Gov. Wolf appeared this week to have struck an agreement on a state budget. That spending plan still is subject to a final vote, which could come this week.
The last time Penn State froze tuition systemwide was 2015-16 — and that was a first in 49 years. Since then, some members of the board of trustees have been urging the university to institute another freeze.
Eight of Penn's State's 19 Commonwealth Campuses — Beaver, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Allegheny, Mont Alto, New Kensington, Shenango and Wilkes-Barre — have kept tuition frozen for the last three years.
In-state freshmen and sophomores currently pay $17,416 on the main campus; out-of-state students, $32,644.
The proposed state budget includes a boost of nearly $17 million for the four state-related universities: Penn State ($7.5 million), Temple ($4.5 million), Pittsburgh ($4.4 million), and Lincoln (close to $475,000).
It also proposes a 3.3 percent increase or about $15 million for the 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, which are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester.
Pressure appears to be building for other universities to hold the line on tuition and room and board.
With the funding increase proposed, "school officials should make a commitment to not increase tuition and room and board for our Pennsylvania students attending these institutions for the 2018-19 school year," House Speaker Mike Turzai, (R., Allegheny) said in a statement. "The increased state funding should solely be used to make higher education more affordable for Pennsylvania students."
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, a Centre County Republican, on his website also touted Barron's commitment to seek a tuition freeze.
Temple is scheduled to decide on its tuition at a July 10 meeting of the board of trustees, said spokesman Ray Betzner. Temple last year raised tuition 2.5 percent, or $384, for in-state students for an annual cost of $15,768, and 4.4 percent, or $1,152, for out-of-state students for an annual tab of $27,528.
The State System schools aren't likely to hold the line on tuition. The system had requested a $73 million increase in state funding.
The system, said spokesman Kenn Marshall, would have to make up the $58 million gap with tuition increases or cuts.
"We needed significantly more than that to balance our budget without a tuition increase," he said.