Tuition at state schools rising 3 percent

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The Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education approved a $194 tuition increase for the 2013-14 academic year Tuesday.


The tuition increase, $97 per semester, is a 3 percent boost that will affect the 14 PASSHE schools: Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester universities.


PASSHE said that beginning this fall, the new annual tuition rate for full-time, resident undergraduate students will be $3,311 per semester, or $6,633 for the full academic year. Almost 90 percent of the students at PASSHE schools are Pennsylvania residents, and about 85 percent attend school full time.


With the tuition increase and a recent increase in federal student loan interest rates, many college students are worried about their financial futures after graduation.


“I’m not really too happy,” California University student and Washington County resident Bethany Romano said. “(I’m) really upset, actually. That’s extra money I have to shell out, and financial aid is hard to get in the first place.”


Romano said there are students with no financial aid who are worse off than she, and some have been there for 10 years – taking two classes here and two classes there. “What’s going to happen when we get out?” she asked.


Romano pays for most of her tuition herself, with loans, minor financial aid and some scholarships. But after applying for scholarships between two semesters, “It’s not that much,” she said. When she first attended California University, Romano said she was paying $20,000 a year. Now, she’s almost paying between $25,000 and $30,000 a year, when room and board and other costs are figured in.


Despite the 3 percent tuition increase, the costs for housing and meal plans at California University will hold steady for the 2013-14 academic year, according to university spokeswoman Christine Kindl. “This is the second year in a row that Cal U. has been able to avoid an increase in housing costs, and the first time in at least 20 years that the cost of board will not rise,” she said.


Courtney Riggle, a resident of Chartiers Township and a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, said she found out about the tuition increase when she was filling out a loan application. “I had to take out a more expensive loan,” she said. “It sucks.”


Riggle said besides tuition, she pays about $1,000 for all of her school supplies. Rent for living off campus costs between $2,500 and $3,000 a semester, she pays for gym membership at the school, and a meal plan costs between $1,000 and $2,000.


Brian Gabriel, a student at Slippery Rock University and a Chartiers Township resident, said when he started college four years ago, he was paying $18,000 a year. A year ago, he was paying $20,000 a year. “That’s more than I want to pay,” he said. Gabriel works at two jobs over the summer to help save money, and he sticks to a strict budget. At one job, he works 40 hours a week and makes about $530 a week. He puts all of that money into his savings. At his other job, he works about 20 hours a week, putting half of that pay into savings, and using the other half for spending money.


PASSHE also announced Tuesday that the tuition technology fee will increase by $5 to $184 per semester, or $368 for the full academic year, for full-time resident undergraduate students. Full-time nonresident undergraduate students will see an $8 increase to $279 a semester, or $558 a year.


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