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PASSHE OKs tuition trials, sets new strategic plan

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The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education board voted Thursday to implement six pilot programs that allow differential tuition rates.

Historically, the 14 PASSHE universities have charged the same tuition rate to all resident students, but in October, new PASSHE Chancellor Frank T. Brogan endorsed the idea of allowing the universities to develop pilot programs.

“This is a potential sea change for the Board of Governors and PASSHE,” Brogan said. “The only way we’re going to know if this will work is to study it, vet it, and actually employ it, to see if it has the effect we intended it to have.”

The proposals will need to be approved by the individual university councils of trustees before they can be implemented. The programs will be evaluated over a two-year period to determine their effectiveness, and whether they could be duplicated at other universities or should be discontinued.

A number of other proposals are under development and could come to the board in April, PASSHE said.

The pilots approved are as follows:

• California University of Pennsylvania plans to reduce tuition charged to active members of the military, their spouses and dependents. The reduced rate would match the amount students with military ties are reimbursed through G.I. assistance programs.

• West Chester University of Pennsylvania will reduce by 10 percent the tuition charged to students who take courses it offers at the PASSHE Center City location in downtown Philadelphia.

• Three universities — Clarion, East Stroudsburg and Edinboro — will establish new course- or program-specific fees to more appropriately cover the costs of offering their nursing programs. Clarion will establish a similar fee for its Communication and Speech Disorders program. As part of its approval, the board included language to help ensure low-income students are not negatively affected by the new fees.

• Finally, Edinboro University will reduce its non-resident, undergraduate tuition rate to 105 percent of the resident rate. Currently, the nonresident tuition must be at least 150 percent of the resident rate.

In related news, the board also approved a new long-range strategic plan with goals to be met by 2020. They include increasing the number of degrees and certificates awarded annually by the universities; increasing the number of working adult and transfer students enrolled in the system; and boosting graduation rates among all groups of students, especially low-income and underrepresented minority students.

 CurrentGoal

Degrees or certificates awarded annually inscience, technology, engineering and mathematics and health-related disciplines

5,6007,500
Undergraduate students over age 259,00011,000
Community college transfer students3,3004,000

The plan also calls for increasing the total number of degrees and certificates awarded annually to 31,500, and the number of students enrolled in classes offered via distance education, including online, to 53,000. PASSHE is the largest provider of higher education in the state, currently enrolling about 112,000 students.

While each of the universities has its own unique set of program offerings, the new plan calls for greater cooperation among the institutions in order to improve their operating efficiency and to ensure students have greater access to educational opportunities even as available resources become tighter.

Finally, a pair of new Doctor of Nursing Practice programs to be offered by Bloomsburg, Clarion and Edinboro universities will join a third DNP program approved by the Board of Governors last summer at West Chester University.

Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@cpbj.com

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