Indiana, PA - Indiana County

IUP trustees add tuition surcharge

by SAM KUSIC skusic@indianagazette.net on March 04, 2011 3:00 AM

IUP's council of trustees on Thursday increased a variety of student fees and approved a new tuition surcharge that will add a few dollars to the cost of a credit.

The tuition surcharge, which is being called a student service fee, will add an additional $6 to the cost of an undergraduate credit and $4 to the cost of a graduate credit.

So undergrads taking four classes per semester at Indiana University of Pennsylvania will see their tuition bill climb an extra $72 per semester; graduate students will pay an extra $60 per semester. The per-credit rate for Pennsylvania undergraduates currently is $231.

But that, too, likely will increase this summer, when the state system sets the new rates for 2011-12.

Administrators said the surcharge is needed to offset the cost of support services for the university's 15,000 students.

The surcharge is projected to generate an extra $2.4 million in revenue.

Additionally, trustees expanded an existing surcharge on tuition for certain master's and doctoral programs. The surcharge of 5 or 10 percent applies to programs that are expensive to operate or are in high demand.

The university began imposing the surcharge this year, but now is either raising it or adding it to more programs for next year.

The university projects it will yield an additional $755,763.

Meal plans are going to be a bit pricier, increasing 3 percent. So a student who eats two meals a day will pay $1,061 per semester. And the room rates in the few remaining university-owned dorms are increasing 8 percent. So a double-occupancy room will now cost $2,230 per semester. The increase applies only to the old dorms, not the new residence halls that are part of the Residential Revival.

Beyond that, there are 17 other fees that are either new or increasing, including the tuition rate for the university's culinary arts program, which will rise 3 percent. These fees generally don't apply campuswide -- they are add-on costs for certain classes, labs and programs.

The university is carrying a projected $10 million deficit for fiscal 2011-12, and it isn't expecting much any increased financial support from the state, which has its own budget problems to worry about. Furthermore, the federal stimulus money, which has helped close budget holes in the last two fiscal years, will have been used up.

Probably the best-case scenario for the state system schools is the one in which the state keeps the system's annual appropriation unchanged. But this seems unlikely, as Gov. Tom Corbett has promised to cut the state's deficit through spending reductions.

He hasn't yet revealed what he intends to cut, though. His budget address is scheduled for next week.

Administrators said they aren't sure what to expect in terms of cuts. Even House Speaker Sam Smith, R-Punxsutawney, who also is an IUP trustee, said Thursday he has no idea what Corbett will propose.

Hoping to mitigate budget reductions, Chancellor John Cavanaugh met with Corbett's budget director, Secretary Charles Zogby. According to an account of the meeting, Cavanaugh told Zogby that the state system is operating as efficiently as possible and that there is no more fat to trim. Any additional cuts would be cuts into muscle, he said.

"It was a good meeting," said Kenn Marshall, state system spokesman.

Overall, the state's annual appropriation to its public schools has declined over the years, and students are having to pay for a greater share of the cost of their education through tuition and fees. While tuition and fee revenue accounts for 50 percent of IUP's projected revenue this year, its share of the state system's basic appropriation accounts for 28 percent. That percentage excludes an amount the state system takes off the top of the appropriation and disburses to the universities if they meet certain performance benchmarks.

Aside from raising fees, IUP also is looking at having to cut programs.

Provost Gerald Intemann told trustees the university needs to consider ending programs that, while perhaps good, are not central to the university's core mission.

"It's going to require making some really, really tough choices," he said.

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