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July 30, 2014, 1:14 pm

Pa. higher education tuition, fees increase

The board of governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) increased tuition at Cheyney University and 13 other state-owned universities by three percent for the 2012–2013 school year. This marks the fifth time in eight years that the increase in tuition has been at, or below, the rate of inflation.

“The gap between financial aid and the cost of attendance will be minimal, but it will also vary from student to student,” said Michelle Howard-Vital, president of Cheyney University. “Many students will owe about $3,000 that they will have to pay by working or by taking out loans. While this does not seem like a great deal of money, with the economic downturn and the average Cheyney University family income of about $35,000, money will be very tight.”

For in-state undergraduates, a three percent increase in tuition and technology fees will mean an extra $198. Out-of-state graduates will pay anywhere from one and half to two and a half times as much, and will also see a three percent increase. Cheyney Board of Trustees will not determine fees for registration, student activities and dormitory expenses until July 26.

At Cheyney, the three percent tuition increase was almost welcoming news — considering the 7.5 percent increase in 2011.

“Even though it was only three percent, I was concerned, because with last year’s increase we lost 300 students,” Howard-Vital said. “I’m glad that it wasn’t as high as the year before, but any increase means sacrifices and choices made by the students and their parents. When a student picks a college, it’s initially because of three reasons: cost, academic programs and the overall image of the university.

“… some students may need to stop going to school and work in order to afford tuition. In the past, I had to talk students back into school because they were working so much to support themselves and their families. I just want students to know that despite the recent increase, the faculty, administration and alumni are doing everything we can to help you.”

The Cheyney University National Alumni Association has been developing scholarship funds for students who do not have enough money between the gap of financial aid and the cost of attendance. The alumni have raised $800,000.

“We were expecting a decision like this, but it is unfortunate because of the economic challenges that people are experiencing,” said Barbara Daniel Cox, 1966 Cheyney alumna and former president of the National Alumni Association. “There are ways for students to get help for their education. Cheyney offers various scholarships, including the Wilt Chamberlain Scholarship and the James Hughes Memorial Scholarship. Various companies, churches and organizations will also provide scholarships. Students just need to be very proactive and search for various scholarships and grants.

“Students can still get an education, they just need to think outside of the box when it comes to the cost. In addition to scheduling classes, they also need to be mindful of cost. Students need to continue to put together a combination of resources to be successful financially. We will continue to support and help the students who attend Cheyney.”

PASSHE also approved new tuition rates for resident graduate students and all nonresident students. The resident graduate tuition rate in 2012–13 will be $429 per credit, an increase of $13. Nonresident graduate tuition will increase by $20 per credit to $644. Full-time, undergraduate tuition for nonresident students will range from $9,642 to $16,070, depending on a variety of factors, including the university and program in which a student enrolls. The tuition technology fee will increase by $10 to $358 for the full academic year for full-time resident students and by $16 to $542 for full-time nonresident students.

The recent tuition increase will leave a $15.8 million gap in PASSHE’s budget. Last year’s budget gap was more than $30 million after the 7.5 percent tuition increase, according to the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.

The total cost of attendance including tuition, fees, and room and board will likely remain below the national average, and significantly below the average in the Middle States region, made up of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, according to PASSHE officials.

“This action demonstrates our ongoing commitment to our students and their families, and to the commonwealth,” said Guido M. Pichini, PASSHE Board of Governors Chairman. “PASSHE universities will continue to offer high-quality education at the most affordable cost possible.”