Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Penn State Ponders Tuition Based on Course Demand University Studies 45 Recommendations, Including Surcharge

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Penn State Ponders Tuition Based on Course Demand University Studies 45 Recommendations, Including Surcharge

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Citing a need to cut costs and supplement losses from dwindling government funding, Penn State University is considering 45 recommendations to alter its tuition prices that would net the university nearly $34 million in the first year of the plan.

These recommendations include a tuition increase for more costly or in-demand majors, a $500-per-semester fee for international students and a tuition surcharge for students enrolled in 19 or more credits. Those increases would be accompanied by a slow increase in undergraduate base tuition and the possibility of tuition decreases on branch campuses, including those in Western Pennsylvania.

"The overarching view, I think, was that tuition should follow cost and demand a little more than it does," said Susan Welch, dean of the college of liberal arts and sciences and one of the leaders of the Budget Planning Task Force.

One proposal in particular caused a stir at Thursday's meeting of the trustees' Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning: adding a 50 percent tuition surcharge for students enrolled in 19 or more credit hours per semester.

Senior vice president for finance and business David Gray said the decision would prevent students from loading up on courses at the beginning of the semester and then dropping those least attractive later on. Ms. Welch said very few Penn State students took more than 19 hours per semester but couldn't give an estimate.

The suggestion of a surcharge elicited a strong reaction from board chairman Keith Masser.

"You're punishing someone who is wanting to get education quicker and get out in the work force," he said.

More dissent is coming from the state House, specifically Andrew E. Dinniman, D-Chester, and minority chair of the Senate education committee.

"This is contrary to our efforts to get students through college as quickly as possible," he said Thursday. "And one wonders whether the millions of dollars that it is costing the university for (Jerry) Sandusky is behind some of the efforts to raise revenues."

"If a student is capable of taking on more work rather than less," he added, "we have always allowed such students to take on as much work as they can, without penalty. …

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