New budget may mean 10% tuition increase

An aide to Gov. Rendell said the state will first look at cutting costs.
HARRISBURG (AP) -- Students at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities could face tuition increases of as much as 10 percent next year if the system receives the amount of aid Gov. Ed Rendell has proposed, system officials said.
State System of Higher Education administrators told the system's board Thursday that a tuition increase of as much as $465 a year was necessary to make up the difference between the system's $464 million state-aid request and the $443 million subsidy Rendell advocates.
Under that scenario, annual tuition for Pennsylvania undergraduate students would rise from $4,810 to $5,275. The board traditionally sets tuition rates in July.
But a top Rendell aide said that kind of increase was unlikely to happen.
"The governor continues to be adamant that before tuition is increased we need to look at wherever we can to cut costs," said David Myers, Rendell's deputy chief of staff. "The state system is the point of access for a lot of people who wouldn't otherwise be able to go to college, so they've got to keep tuition down and keep tuition affordable."
Even if the system's entire request were approved, the system proposes to boost tuition by 6 percent in its $1.2 billion operating budget for 2005-06.
Early projections
Board Chairman Charles Gomulka said the tuition projections were presented earlier than usual so legislators and Rendell would understand the impact the governor's budget would have on students and their families.
"These are the facts," he said. "We can't continually be put in a position where we can miraculously find ways to cut costs."
Last year, the state system planned to raise tuition and a technology fee by a total of $417 but later agreed to a $212 increase after Rendell intervened and insisted on budget cuts and a salary freeze.
The administration would not rule out a tuition increase for next year, "but we want to make sure no stone is unturned before we get there," Myers said.
The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.
Rendell's budget also calls for giving less state aid to Penn State University than it requested, but Penn State officials have not revised their tuition projections since they made their request last fall, spokesman Bill Mahon said.
Penn State originally envisioned a tuition increase of about 6 percent, based on a state aid request of $334.8 million; Rendell has proposed $324.2 million.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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