Slippery Rock University officials are proposing a tuition increase that if approved would take effect during the 2020-21 academic year.

“We’re still in an environment where costs are rising,” said Molly Mercer, SRU’s chief financial officer.

SRU’s council of trustees met on Friday and agreed to advance the school’s proposed tuition pricing and financial aid plan to Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education board of governors.

The board of governors meets on April 1 and 2 in Harrisburg, where they’ll make the final determination, Mercer said.

If approved, the tuition increase would be applied to the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years, and SRU would set aside .5 percent to fund additional financial aid, according to a news release issued by the university.

There would be a 3.5 percent increase each year. The 14 state-owned universities, which includes SRU, have had tuition increases at or near 3 percent since 2013 – except for the current academic year, when the board of governors froze tuition.

Earlier this year, PASSHE amended the tuition policy, giving each university the opportunity for school officials to recommend tuition pricing plans unique to their school, Mercer said.

“We thought it was a positive development,” she said.

Previous tuition proposals were the same for each of the 14 schools. If SRU didn’t recommend its own tuition plan, the board of governors would set the costs, she said.

Expenses to run SRU keep going up, and some budget reductions for things like property maintenance were made this year to balance the spending plan, she said.

“We need to be able to restore that funding,” Mercer said.

Personnel costs like salary and benefits make up about 80 percent of SRU’s budget, and there are some pay raises worked into collective bargaining agreements.

Mercer told the council of trustees that SRU could be facing a possible $4.6 million shortfall during the 2020-21 school year.

School officials believe that the tailored approach to SRU’s tuition plan will help the university be more successful.

“We have distinguished ourselves as a leader in public higher education,” Mercer said. 

The tuition and financial aid proposal will allow the university to continue to meet students’ needs through scholarships.

SRU wouldn’t be moving forward with the proposal if it wasn’t needed in order to provide a consistent and quality product, SRU President William Behre said in the news release. 

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