No more higher education funds can be found and the state is paying for less tuition than ever. Now some students will get to shoulder the burden of tuition increases that will reach 16 percent in their fourth year.
Twelve years and $34.5 million in budget cuts later, tuition continues to see a steady increase at Shippensburg University.
The purpose of PASSHE schools was, and still is, to give Pennsylvania residents an opportunity to attend universities at a lower cost than private institutions by using tax money to fund higher education.
Undergraduate non-resident students will not see the 16 percent increase in their tuition during the fourth year of the new program. The non-resident tuition stands at $7,673 and will stay at that price, while PA-resident tuitions rise. This seems logical, because of how much money SU and other PASSHE schools would lose if non-resident tuition went to the same new prices. Why shouldn’t non-resident tuition prices rise proportionally, alongside PA-resident tuitions?
It is not a matter of how much is being paid. It’s the percent of increase that will put students in financial woes.
If all PA-resident students are required to pay per credit at a 16 percent increase in overall tuition, then non-resident students should bare the same weight. It is only fair and would further improve financial conditions.
After careful calculations it was determined that a 16 percent increase on non-resident tuition would result in a surplus of more than $1,200 per student.
Residents of PA are already paying taxes to send state residents to school in the PASSHE system, so it is only fair that non-residents bare the greater burden.
Chances are that the tuition increases will not dramatically impact most students’ enrollment.
There are, however, those students in the middle, between those who are economically fortunate enough to not worry and those given enough aid by loans, grants and scholarships.
The new tuition program targets those students who may already be stretching their pennies to make ends meet. Not all students get accepted for loans or federal and state assistance and have to work their way through school. It is these students who will be hurt the most by this new program.
The state needs to take the burden off the shoulders of students as it did in previous decades. Since 2005, Pennsylvania has reduced general funding for PASSHE schools by $32.6 million. To put these numbers in perspective, $32.6 million could pay for almost 5,000 undergraduate students for a full year.
There are a handful of ways in which the state could help future students beat the tuition increases. Allocation of state funding is one of the biggest factors in determining how much money is brought into an institution. Tax increases are a possibility, as well, despite not always being the most popular option.
There are always those people unwilling to pay more education taxes because they do not have children or students in the state education system. To those people I ask, “Do you want the world to be populated by uneducated adults because you were selfish?”
We should all, student or not, strive to make Pennsylvania a state that is willing to make tough decisions in order to educate its youth in a system of higher education with enough funds to educate them at the highest level possible.