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Pennsylvania state colleges could see tuition hike

| Wednesday, July 12, 2017, 4:36 p.m.
Cal graduate with Yinzer on his cap at Cal U Commencement

Students at the 14 state-owned universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education could face a tuition increase this fall.

Members of the system oversight board will vote Thursday on a recommendation to raise the lowest base tuition by $254 a year.

Faced with projections of continuing enrollment declines, members of the PASSHE oversight board will vote on a 3.5 percent tuition increase recommended at a committee meeting Wednesday.

If adopted, the increase will boost the lowest base tuition for undergraduates from $7,238 a year to $7,492.

The state system schools, which enrolled about 105,000 students statewide last year, include California, Clarion, Edinboro, Indiana and Slippery Rock universities in Western Pennsylvania.

PASSHE officials said a projected enrollment decline of 1,300 students this fall is driving, in part, the proposed tuition increase, as schools depend on tuition for about two-thirds of their revenue.

Although state lawmakers last week approved a $9 million a year budget increase for the system, officials said that still left the struggling schools with a $71 million projected budget deficit.

If that projection holds, it will mark the seventh consecutive year of enrollment declines for the system, whose enrollment peaked at 119,500 in 2010. By last fall, total enrollment had plummeted by about 14,700 students.

Much of the decline has been attributed to the shrinking pool of high school graduates in Pennsylvania, who make up the bulk of students at PASSHE universities.

In light of the mounting financial challenges and declining enrollment, PASSHE Chancellor Frank Brogan in January called operations of the 14 state-owned universities “unsustainable” and ordered a sweeping review .

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996, derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.

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