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Pennsylvania

Colleges expect fewer to enroll

| Friday, April 13, 2012, 3:16 p.m.

HARRISBURG -- Leaders of Pennsylvania's state university system said Wednesday they project fewer students will enroll at the 14 state universities next year than expected.

The roughly 110,580 students projected to attend state schools next fall is down about 1,600 from fall enrollment estimates for the 2012-13 school year, Lois Johnson, a budget staffer for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, said at the system's quarterly board of governors meeting.

"We built in revenue projections that expect a certain amount of tuition and fee revenue based on a certain number of students and a certain mix of students," Johnson said. "If we've got 1,600 fewer students in '12-'13, then we've got less tuition and fees associated with those students, which our estimates are about $13 million less."

The $13 million loss in tuition and fees for the system comes on top of a proposed 20 percent cut in state funding by Gov. Tom Corbett that students and university officials are fighting to reduce.

Corbett proposed cutting state universities, including Slippery Rock, Indiana and California, by 20 percent while Penn State, Pitt and Temple would endure a 30 percent reduction.

Johnson said the state cuts, enrollment decline and other updated budget figures mean the state system would face a $125 million shortfall next year.

That shortfall does not include any potential revenue from a tuition increase, which officials typically set at their June meeting. Johnson said a 1 percent tuition hike would generate about $9 million.

Universities individually estimate their enrollment each fall and revise that figure in the spring once acceptances go out and students decide where they'll attend, said Kenn Marshall, a system spokesman.

Marshall said a declining number of high school graduates statewide could be a contributing factor.

Undergraduate enrollment remained level this year versus last year, but graduate enrollment is down slightly because of a temporary suspension of a continuing education requirement for teachers, Marshall said.

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