SRU trustees advance new tuition and financial aid proposal to BOG
The Slippery Rock University council of trustees voted today to advance the University’s tuition pricing and financial aid proposal to Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education board of governors for approval.
Dec. 13, 2019
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — The Slippery Rock University council of trustees today voted to advance the University's proposed tuition pricing and financial aid plan to Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education board of governors for approval. If approved, the changes would go into effect for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years.
Earlier this year, the BOG approved a tuition policy giving the 14 state-owned universities more flexibility in the way tuition is set each year beginning in 2020-21. Under the policy, which was developed based on the recommendations of a broad-based task group established as part of the ongoing State System Redesign, universities are able to craft their own tuition plans, taking into consideration regional economic differences, such as household income, cost of living and regional buying power; individual program costs; and the specific needs of potential students, including their ability to pay.
In previous years, tuition was set by the board at the same rate across the State System's 14 universities. The BOG will continue to set a base tuition rate each year for those universities that choose not to design their own tuition plans or need more time to develop their own plans.
SRU's proposal calls for tuition increases of 3.5% in 2020-21 and 3.5% in 2021-22, which are closely aligned to annual increases at or near 3% since 2013. The lone exception was FY19-20 when the BOG froze tuition. If approved, the University would set aside 0.5% to fund additional financial aid opportunities.
"Let me say that everyone at SRU is dedicated to providing a Rock Solid and affordable education," said William Behre, SRU president. "We're not in the business of putting barriers in front of our students. This decision, to ask the State System board of governors for a tuition increase, is because of a policy decision made in Harrisburg. That said, it is far better that we do something lesser now, rather than having to do something cumulatively larger in two years. We wouldn't be looking to do this if it wasn't needed ... needed in order to provide the consistent, quality product that we promise our students that we would deliver to them."
"We achieved a position of financial stability and strength in a challenging economic environment, but that is not sustainable without changes to our pricing structure while still delivering our students the academic programs, support services and financial aid that they need," said Molly Mercer, SRU's chief financial officer. "Costs for these resources continue to climb and we have to make strategic decisions to anticipate future demands and still be able to provide a pathway to success for our students."
Mercer pointed out in her presentation to the COT that SRU is facing a potential $4.6 million gap between anticipated revenues to expenses in FY 20-21. "We're a very lean operation and while we'll continue to revise the budget over the next year, even with the proposed tuition increase we'll be facing serious choices as to how to address the gap between what the additional tuition revenue will bring in and what we need to cover operating expenses," she said.
The tuition and financial aid proposal will allow the University to expand its ability to meet students' needs through scholarships.
"Financial aid is a strong component to our pricing strategy because that supports students and families from all socioeconomic backgrounds," Behre said. "This is not only mandated by the board of governors, but it's why we exist: to serve the public good and provide education opportunities for all people to succeed."
SRU's tuition rate and financial aid proposal for 2020-21 and 2021-22 will be voted on by the BOG at their quarterly meeting, April 1-2, 2020, in Harrisburg.
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