by Andrew Kissinger, Intern
A few weeks ago, APSCUF held its 181st meeting of the Legislative Assembly. During this time, delegates from each of the 14 universities converge to discuss ideas, receive reports from statewide committees, and vote on both organizational policy changes and resolutions. One such resolution – a moratorium on the per-credit tuition pilot proposals – passed unanimously. The resolution reads:
“APSCUF requests that the Board of Governors refrain from approving any additional undergraduate per-credit tuition pilot programs until there is enough time to study the effects of the already approved pilots.”
The pilot programs already in place at Clarion and Millersville Universities will, according to the Board of Governors, help these schools generate new revenue. Next fall, similar programs will be implemented at Bloomsburg University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), potentially generating $3 million a year for three years, which will be paid by State System students and their families.
The widespread implementation of such pilots without knowledge of their full impact is irresponsible. Act 188, which created the State System and the Board of Governors, clearly dictates that the system is “to provide high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students.”
As it stands currently, a student at Bloomsburg taking 12-18 credits per semester pays an annual tuition rate of $6,820. Under the per-credit pricing model, a student taking 12 credits will still pay $6,820, but a student who wishes to take 15 credits – the number necessary to graduate in four years – will pay an annual rate of $8,520, an increase of $1,700 or 25 percent. A student taking 18 credits will pay $10,224 annually, a staggering $3,404 – or 50 percent – increase in one year.
One must wonder if these programs help or hinder the mission of the State System under Act 188. These pilot programs come at a time when the average Pennsylvania student already graduates from the State System with over $30,000 in debt. From a national perspective, Pennsylvania ranks third-highest in student loan debt. Nearly 80 percent of PASSHE students accept some form of financial aid. These tuition increases will place an even greater financial burden on students and their families.
When the State System was created in 1982, the Commonwealth covered 65 percent of college costs. Today, state financial support covers a mere 25 percent of college costs, an abysmal number that will plummet even with the institution of these pilot programs.
The delegates of APSCUF show resolve in asking the Board of Governors to halt these tuition pilots. It is more than reasonable to request and study the impact of the established pilots before similar programs are established at any other universities.