PASSHE Introduces Two-Year Tuition Policy

Photo Credit / Sean Mickalitis
Financial aid representatives Sally Duffy helps student Jenna Dibona understand her financial aid options for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Sean Mickalitis

News Editor

The Board of Governors approved a new tuition policy that will give universities more control in the way they set tuition rates. 

PASSHE Media Relations Manager Kenn Marshall explained that the new policy would enable universities to set their own tuition rates based on several factors such as household income, cost of living and the specific needs of students. 

The change will begin next year. Universities must submit their tuition proposals to the Board for approval by April 30th to give students and parents time to financially prepare for the coming fall semester, according to Marshall. 

Currently, the board sets the tuition rates in July. One student likes the idea of having tuition set in earlier.  

“It makes sense. I think it’s beneficial to have the tuition set in April opposed to July,” said Freshman Piper Langan. “Even before the spring semester is over, it’s good to know how much tuition will be for the fall semester.”

Though a state system press release said that the Board would set a base tuition rate if universities do not submit a proposal by the deadline next year. 

The new policy gives universities the freedom to design a tuition plan that will benefit their students’ success and financial wellbeing, such as the possibility for tier-based tuition. 

Marshall explained Tier-based tuition is a way for schools to set tuition rates based on students’ household income, though it’s not a plan or policy established by PASSHE but an example of what the new policy will enable colleges to do. 

In December 2017, PASSHE officials assembled a task-force of faculty, staff, students and administrators to begin researching and studying what school systems in other states have done to set their tuition.

Their findings and a draft of the policy was posted online for stakeholders to review before the plan was voted on by the Board, according to Marshall. 

The policy is part of the System Redesign that focuses on students’ success and is one that Marshall says will save universities money. 

As the redesign progresses, PASSHE will become a “sharing system,” where both the state system and universities will work collaboratively to reduce costs and increase the types of education available to students. 

Marshall explained that if a student at ESU wanted to take classes that the university doesn’t offer, they could enroll simultaneously at another institution in the PASSHE system, possibly using online education as a medium. 

“It’s a good idea. When I came here, I wanted to minor in German but that’s not available here. If it were available somewhere else like online, I would totally do that,” said Langan. 

Whether or not universities use virtual education to increase program availability is a decision the universities will make together. 

Not only are there inter-academic benefits, but there are inter-administrative advantages as well. 

Marshall said the 14 schools would work together to reduce costs by combining functions like student enrollment. 

Instead of each university having a fully-staffed enrollment and financial aid department, there can be three or four throughout the commonwealth. This approach can reduce spending. 

Langan is happy with the idea that universities will save money, but she believes the plan could be better.

“My initial thought was it should be longer. Most people go to school for four years. I wouldn’t be happy if I went to school for two years and after that they raise the tuition.”

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