Report: Pa. has 4th-highest in-state tuition costs

KEVIN BEGOS, Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- A new report from the College Board says Pennsylvania has the fourth-highest in-state tuition charges in the nation for four-year public universities. The Penn State University Park campus topped the list nationally with in-state tuition and fees totaling more than $17,200 for the current class.

But Penn State's increases over the last five years were lower than many other flagship institutions, 15 percent, compared to 86 percent at the University of Florida and 81 percent at the University of Arizona, for example.

In some other areas, Pennsylvania was similar to many other states.

In 2010, the percentage of first-year students who were from Pennsylvania was 73 percent, while the national average of first-year students in each state who were from that state was 81 percent. And between 2000 and 2010, full-time enrollment in Pennsylvania two-year and four-year schools increased by about 30 percent, close to the 33 percent national average.

But the average state appropriation for higher education in Pennsylvania was among the lowest in the nation, $3.39 per $1,000 in personal income. Just four states were lower, and the national average was $5.63.

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Education said Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is concerned about costs.

"The cost of higher education has been and remains a concern of Governor Corbett since taking office in 2011," spokesman Tim Eller said in a statement. "The Governor announced in June that postsecondary education leaders agreed to hold tuition increases to a minimum in exchange for level funding from the 2011-12 state budget."

Penn State spokeswoman Jill Shockley noted that this year's tuition increase of 2.4 percent was the lowest at the school since 1967.

"Penn State is committed to keeping tuition increases as modest as possible without compromising the quality of our academic offerings," Shockley said.

Overall, Pennsylvania's published in-state tuition charges of more than $12,000 were behind only New Jersey, Vermont and New Hampshire, which topped the list at more than $14,500. Wyoming was on the low end at less than $4,300.

The report found similar trends across the nation.

The price of in-state tuition at four-year public universities climbed an average of $400 this fall to $8,655, an increase of nearly 5 percent. The report largely blames state cuts for rising tuition. Add on room-and-board charges and the full cost for students living on campus rose nationally to $17,860.

A separate report from the College Board, an education advocacy group that also runs the Advanced Placement college preparation program, compared financial aid in different states.

Pennsylvania came in at about the national average of $660 in state aid per student. Eight states were under $100, while eight states were over $1,000.