California University of Pennsylvania

Lawmaker Blasts State System Tuition Hike

Angry with the State System of Higher Education’s decision to raise tuition rates by 3% this fall, State Rep. Brad Roae (R-Crawford) issued a blunt statement this week, which said it “should be ashamed of itself” for trying to take advantage of students.

Roae tells Radio PA the US Department of Labor recently reported that the Consumer Price Index inflation rate last year was 1.7%.  “But the PASSHE board is calling the 3% tuition increase a below inflation rate increase, which I think is pretty bogus,” Roae explains.  He believes the tuition hike is unnecessary and will only serve to make a college education less affordable.

PASSHE spokesman Kenn Marshall stands by their assertion that tuition has been held under the rate of inflation for the fifth time in the past eight years.  He says the Consumer Price Index and inflation rate are not interchangeable.  “The CPI is actually a number that can be used to calculate the inflation rate… and based on that 1.7% CPI, the annual inflation rate is actually 3.1%.”

Higher Education Rally

Students rallied against proposed higher education budget cuts this spring. In the end, the new state budget included level funding for state-owned and state-related universities.

The mathematical debate notwithstanding, Rep. Roae believes State System tuition should be frozen.  “My ten piece bill package would do what the PASSHE board should be doing, and that’s looking at ways to keep costs down so that tuition isn’t so high.”  In addition to a tuition freeze, Roae’s bills would cap university presidents’ salaries, make full-time professors teach more hours, end paid sabbatical leave and more.

But Marshall says they’ve been actively engaged in costs controls for more than a decade.  “We’ve reduced our costs by almost $230-million dollars over the past ten years,” he says.  That includes 900-positions being left vacant in the past two years alone.

In-state, undergraduate tuition at all 14-state-owned universities will be $6,428 this fall.