Jul 26, 2022 - News

Inflation pressures Pennsylvania universities to hike tuition

Illustration of a large pile of money with a graduation cap on top.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A period of pandemic tuition freezes has mostly thawed at Pennsylvania universities.

What's happening: Temple and Penn State, two of Pennsylvania’s partially private colleges, both recently announced tuition hikes for the upcoming school year, joining a choir of establishments blaming inflation as one of the main drivers of rising education costs.

Why it matters: It's making the already exorbitant cost of higher education even more expensive.

Driving the news: Penn State University announced last week that it's raising undergraduate tuition by 5% at its University Park campus and 2% at the Commonwealth campuses.

  • Penn State had also bumped undergraduate tuition for this past academic year after three consecutive years of tuition freezes.

Temple University's Board of Trustees voted this month to increase tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students by 3.9% for the 2022-23 school year.

  • It follows a hike last year after the university froze tuition in 2020.

Context: These announcements come after several private schools, like the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova, announced tuition hikes in the spring for the upcoming academic year

The big picture: College enrollment has been declining across the country for nearly a decade, but the pandemic is accelerating the trend, Axios' Erin Doherty writes. And rising costs and student loan interest rates could turn more students away, CNBC reports.

Percentage change in undergraduate enrollment
Data: National Student Clearinghouse; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

State of play: Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education has frozen tuition at its state universities for the fourth straight year after the system received a significant boost in state funding, the Inquirer reports.

  • But Pennsylvania’s four partially private colleges —Temple, Penn State, the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University (the two latter of which are also raising tuition this fall) — didn't get increases in state appropriations this year.

Between the lines: State House Republicans had attempted to block state appropriations altogether for the four universities, specifically Pitt, during recent budget negotiations in an effort to ban research that uses "fetal tissue obtained from an elective abortion."

  • Lawmakers ultimately removed the proposed ban from the funding plan, adding it instead to broadband legislation which has since stalled.

What's next: Gov. Tom Wolf plans to send a one-time boost of $40 million in federal pandemic funding to split between Penn State, Temple, Pitt and Lincoln University, Spotlight PA reports.

What they're saying: Penn State trustee Brandon Short said during a meeting Friday, "I understand that people are struggling to make ends meet … and I feel their pain because we all feel it, but if we continue to cut, it will have a negative effect on the quality of a Penn State education," according to Trib Live.


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