Average price of college tuition in Pennsylvania ranked fifth highest nationally

Sabrina Porter Nov 13, 2006

Pennsylvania has been ranked the fifth most expensive state in which to attend public college and the 10th most expensive state in which to attend private college, according to a November 6 issue of Time magazine.

The College Board compiled the rankings, which are based on the average tuition rates of public and private colleges and universities statewide.

Pennsylvania tuition rates at four-year public campuses moved from most expensive to number five, while tuition figures in the four-year private sector fell from sixth to tenth.

According to the College Board’s national pricing report, tuition and fees paid by Pennsylvanians are about $9041 at public four-year campuses and $25,591 at private four-year campuses. As it is, these figures remain thousands of dollars over the national averages — $5836 and $22,281, respectively.

Tuition rates at both Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh exceed not only the national averages in their respective categories but those averages for Pennsylvania as well.

At the University of Pittsburgh, a public university, the typical in-state undergraduate tuition is approximately $12,000 — more than double the national average and a full $3000 above the Pennsylvania average.

Carnegie Mellon’s tuition deviated similarly from the average. Tuition for the 2006–07 academic year totals about $34,000 — nearly $11,000 above the national average and $8000 above the Pennsylvania average.

“This is a very expensive business,” said vice-president of enrollment Bill Elliott. “How do you maintain and improve while at the same time trying to maintain costs?”

Over the past year, the average tuitions of both four-year public and four-year private universities have increased by 6 percent nationwide. This percent increase is equivalent to $344 at public universities and $1238 at private universities. Over the past five years, overall tution costs of both private and public universities have risen 35 percent.

In addition to administrators, students are trying to rationalize the high costs of tuition.

“I feel like tuition is so expensive because it isn’t being used correctly,” said H&SS first-year Barbara Matthews. “It should be used on things we really need.”

“Maybe it’s just a byproduct of an increased cost for standard of living ... everything from health insurance to food services,” said H&SS first-year JoAnna Hartzmark.

At a news conference in Washington, D.C., the College Board reported that, even though tuition increases this fall have slowed for the third consecutive year, college costs continue to outpace inflation.

A similar story can be seen when college costs are compared to the cost of living. According to a March 17 Time magazine article, the increase in college tuition from 1977 to 1997 was equivalent to twice the growth rate of the cost of living.

Elliott will host a forum about tuition tomorrow, to which students, parents, and alumni have been invited to attend and share their views. Tuition rates for the 2007–08 academic year have not been decided.