2010-07-15 / Local & State

Penn St. Trustees Approve Tuition Hike

By Genaro C. Armas ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

DUBOIS, Pa. (AP) – Penn State students face another tuition hike.

Coping with rising costs and stagnant state funding, university trustees Friday voted to increase tuition by 5.9 percent for in-state freshmen and sophomores enrolled at the main University Park campus, or an increase of more than $800 per year to about $14,400.

Tuition will rise 4.5 percent, or by more than $1,100, for out-of-state freshmen and sophomores, though those students have a much higher bill at more than $26,000 a year.

University president Graham Spanier said the school is trying to keep tuition as low as possible despite fiscal challenges and a need to reinstate modest staff and faculty raises after a salary freeze last year.

“The administration and the board wrestle with tuition increases and still providing a quality education,’’ said trustees chairman Steve Garban. “It’s a tough balance.’’

The board also Friday approved a budget of more than $4 billion for the university system with 24 campuses statewide and about 94,000 students.

“Pennsylvania’s financial difficulties have touched all of our campuses and have been a very serious concern for parents, students, faculty and staff,’’ Spanier said in presenting the budget proposal to the board Friday morning at a meeting in DuBois.

Spanier identified the top budget priority as keeping tuition low without sacrificing quality, followed by reinstituting pay raises which he said were needed in part to keep Penn State competitive. Salary increases would total more than $30 million.

Senior Christian Ragland, president of the University Park Undergraduate Association, praised the quality of the education at the school, though lamented about another tuition increase for students.

“I could be OK with a tuition increase, as long as I feel my education didn’t get slighted,’’ Ragland said.

Trustees also approved higher fees for technology, student activities and student facilities.

State funding covers about 8 percent of the university’s income. This year’s budget accounts for about $334 million in state appropriations, which is unchanged from last year.

The total also assumes the school receives $16 million in federal stimulus money, funds which have been stalled in Congress.

The university plans to implement a 1 percent budget cut for all academic and administrative units to generate $7 million in savings.

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