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Board Of Trustees Officially Raises Tuition For 2021-22 Year

Penn State’s Board of Trustees voted Thursday afternoon to raise tuition for the 2021-22 academic year.

At the board’s first fully in-person meeting since 2020, trustees voted 26-5 to raise all students’ tuition rates by at least 2.5% as part of its new operating budget. The vote marks the first time in four years Penn State raised tuition for in-state students.

Under the university’s passed $7.7 billion budget, in-state undergraduate students at University Park will see about a 2.5% increase in their tuition for the 2021-22 academic year. Out-of-state students will receive an approximate 2.75% increase across the board. University Park’s student-initiated fee will remain at $265 per semester for full-time students.

Adjusted for inflation, the proposed tuition remains lower than it was a decade ago, according to the university.

A full breakdown of 2021-22 tuition rates is available below.

It’s important to note that proposed tuition rates won’t change if classes are delivered online this fall or spring, just like last year.

Before voting, a number of trustees cited issues with Penn State’s proposed $7.7 operating budget. Trustees Brandon Short and Jay Paterno urged caution in raising tuition, noting that the hike would help Penn State’s budget at the expense of students’ wallets.

“While I support merit raises for our loyal faculty and staff and I support increased student aid, it should not be done on the backs of our students,” Paterno said.

Short ultimately voted in favor of the budget, saying occasional increases are needed to maintain Penn State’s status.

“The board does not take the decision to increase tuition lightly. There’s a tremendous amount of thought and questions that go into each budget before it comes,” Short said. “We’ve gone three years without having a tuition increase…In order to maintain that tuition increase at 0%, we’ve had to make tremendous cuts. I’m concerned that if we continue to make those kinds of cuts, it would affect the quality of a Penn State education.”

The increased budget will help Penn State raise salaries by 2%. Additionally, Penn State will be able to provide $10 million more in student aid — a 15% increase, according to the board.

Trustee Ted Brown, who voted against the budget, cited a recent survey that found about 30% of Penn State students at least occasionally struggled with food insecurity.

“When we say it’s ‘only a $240 increase,’ think of how much food $240 buys. I’m in favor of this budget, just cut a little different way,” Brown said.

Although it’s already one of the most expensive state-related universities, Penn State’s increase places it in the middle of the pack among universities that have already announced tuition hikes. Its collective 2.625% hike for undergraduate and graduate students sits above Michigan State (1.95%), Minnesota (1.5%), and Michigan (1.4%), among others. Schools like the University of Virginia, Nebraska, and Illinois won’t raise tuition this academic year.

In Pennsylvania, Pitt raised its lowest base tuition rate by 2.5% this week. Temple also raised its tuition by about 2.5%. Still, Penn State remains the second-most expensive Big Ten school for in-state students behind Northwestern, which is a private university.

In its proposed $7.7 billion budget, the committee wrote that the ongoing COVID-19 was expected to impact Penn State’s university-wide budget and tuition.

“Our efforts to keep a Penn State education accessible and affordable have placed us among the top tier of public flagship universities for the smallest overall increase in in-state tuition over the last decade,” Penn State President Eric Barron said in a statement. “We always strive to support our students first by keeping tuition increases low or flat, and this year’s modest rise, though necessary to keep up with inflation and the University’s own rising costs, was held to the lowest percentage possible while still allowing us to deliver the world-class academic and student experiences that make Penn State so special.”

Penn State’s proposed state appropriations from Harrisburg will not increase this year, as approved by Governor Tom Wolf in June. The appropriations are typically used to counter tuition increases and attempt to keep them flat.

Back in April, the Board of Trustees approved a 3.45% increase to room and board rates for the 2021-22 academic year. The changes will work out to a $203 increase per student per semester for those paying for a standard double room and mid-level meal plan.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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