Penn College tuition to spike

The Pennsylvania College of Technology board of directors unanimously approved the 2019-20 budget of $157.3 million, which represents a $7.1 million decrease in spending from the current budget.

The budget includes a 2.51 percent tuition and fee rate increase; a 1.5 percent increase for residence life and 1.5 percent increase for dining services.

According to figures released by the college, the in-state rate for tuition and fees in next year’s budget will be $572 per credit hour, an increase of $14 over 2018-19. A full-time, in-state student enrolled for the typical two 15-credit semesters for the upcoming school year will pay $17,160 in tuition and fees, an increase of $420 over 2018-19.

Tuition and fees for out-of state students will increase $21 per credit to $817 per credit hour which translates to a total of $24,510 in tuition and fees or an increase of $630 over the 2018-19 school year for two 15-credit semesters.

Pennsylvania residents account for over 90 percent of the college’s total enrollment of 5,319. Military veterans and students enrolled in Penn College’s online degree programs pay in-state tuition rates.

Suzanne Stopper, senior vice president for finance/CFO, noted that in formulating the budget, the diverse needs of the majors are taken into consideration.

“We’re the College of Technology, which is an amazing, exciting thing, but it also brings challenges,” she said.

She cited nursing, the diesel lab, culinary and the automotive program as a few of the majors which represent the diversity of needs when it comes to budgeting funds.

“So all of those program have very diverse, very different needs. As we work to build this budget, we have to consider all those needs,” Stopper said.

She noted the challenge of training the students in the changing technology of the future.

“We, and who we are, require us to constantly be aware of the technology that’s coming out, so that we can take that opportunity to educate our students, maybe create a major, who knows, but it always has to be in the forefront of our minds,” she added.

The budget includes a state appropriation of $23.2 million, an increase of $500,000. This accounts for 14.8 percent of the college’s total budget and 20.2 percent of its operating budget. Tuition and fees represent the greatest portion of income for the college at 59.8 percent of the budget.

Enrollment for the upcoming year is expected to be down by 2 percent.

According to Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, president of Penn College, “Shifting population demographics and a smaller pool of high school graduates–due to declining birth rates in Pennsylvania, the Northeast US and beyond–have impacted enrollment at most colleges and universities the past few years. We are no exception,” she added.

In terms of expenditures, the budget includes a 1.65 percent salary increment for faculty, with was called for by the collective bargaining agreement with the college’s education association and an increase of $1.2 million in benefits. These includes health care and retirement benefits. Capital expenditures are down in the budget.

“The budget is a plan for the future and it’s built to support the future of our students,” Stopper noted.

In conjunction with passage of the budget, the board also approved authorizing the College to continue operations after June 30, 2019 at budgeted levels approved for the 2018-19 fiscal year in the event that a state budget is not passed by the end of this month.

Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, chairman of the board, indicated that he thinks that the state legislature will have a budget by that time.

“I will be highly surprised if we do not have a budget within the next two weeks,” he said.

In other business, the board approved:

• Voluntary gifts of $100,000 to the City and $35,000 to the Williamsport Area School District.

• The appointment of Michael J. Reed as vice president for academic affairs and provost, effective July 1. He succeeds Paul L. Starkey who will return to teaching.

• The following Community Arts Center board of directors: Gilmour, William J. Martin, Patrick Marty, A.J. Lacomba, Stopper and Carolyn Strickland.

The next regular meeting of the board will be at 3 p.m. August 8 at the Professional Development Center.