Question No. 2: Tuition

The rising cost of tuition nationally is making college less affordable for many students. Outline the steps you believe Penn State should be taking to address the issue.

[Back to Board of Trustees Election 2012 page.]

1. Matthew J. Lisk ’95, New Providence, N.J.

Having the highest in-state tuition for a state university in the entire country is not a distinction of which Penn State should be proud. Competition for students has forced universities to expand the services offered to students and increase the amount of merit aid distributed, with disastrous effects on the bottom line. Despite this, the University is poised to be a thought leader in making college affordable for all students. To solve this growing problem Penn State needs collaboration and innovation followed by execution.

Through collaboration with other flagship state and land grant universities, Penn State may be able to trim program offerings without negatively impacting the breadth of courses available. Penn State can stop trying to be everything to everyone and leverage established programs at other universities while redirecting attention to core competencies.  Collaboration should not end at program offerings. Penn State should seek to learn from other schools, share efficacy data and open a dialogue to ramp down admission competition and ramp up value to students.

Innovation through the use of labor-saving technology must improve the learning experience while also cutting costs. Some will argue that the increasing cost of technology has, in part, contributed to the rising tuition. However, having the infrastructure in place to support new modes of learning should be viewed as a worthwhile investment. This does not mean simply putting courses on line but seeking to help students learn more quickly and easily. Penn State must strive to be a “first mover”.

2. Ryan J. McCombie ’70, State College, Pa.

[Did not respond.]

3. Jes James Sellers ’74, ’76g, Cleveland, Ohio

a.  Initiate a major fund raising campaign to promote ‘Penn State Land Grant Scholarships’  to secure in-state tuition benefits for Pennsylvania residents.

b. Fully implement the alternative educational options including the Penn State World Campus and the newly redesigned Summer Semester Sessions, e.g., ‘Maymester’ and six-week summer sessions for students ; offer reduced tuition rates to students with financial need, including veterans and Commonwealth families who have sons and daughters actively serving in the military.

c.  Promote campus and online continuing education credits and certificate programs and offer an alumni discount to help advance the careers of our alumni.

d.  Ban the bourgeoning practice in higher education of offering ‘Celebrity’ or ‘CEO’ salaries for top university officials and athletic coaches.  Following the false dichotomy that good university leaders cannot be found without excessive salary offers only contributes to increased university costs and higher tuition for students and their families who cannot afford it.

e.  Invest in a new, international campaign to promote and actively market Penn State University to international students who, by virtue of their visa status requirements, document the ability to pay full tuition without support from the university or state.

4. Thomas J. Sharbaugh ’73, Philadelphia, Pa.

In my view, Penn State’s position as the most expensive US public university is its biggest crisis. We should not abandon our original mission of educating the “industrial classes,” nor strive to become an elite private institution. Our cost is even more of a problem at most of the Commonwealth Campuses because commuter students know that they can start at a community college at one-third the tuition and then transfer to Penn State for their last two years. I have mentioned various cost-saving and revenue-generating measures in response to the first question. The most important of these from a tuition standpoint is the use of more online learning. Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen and others suggest that online learning is a threat to the public universities because the “for-profit” universities will be able to educate many more students at a much lower cost. Even highly respected Stanford had 35,000 students take a computer science course online vs. 175 classroom students in the same course. Penn State can be disrupted or be the disruptor. We could reduce costs by using online learning to serve more students per class. We could also generate revenue by offering to smaller colleges and universities the opportunity to have their students attend online more specialized science, business and engineering courses that the smaller schools do not offer. In addition, we could expand the course and degree offerings at the Commonwealth Campuses to increase enrollment by the more cost-conscious students.

5. John C. Foster ’77, ’83g, ’97g, Carlisle, Pa.

[Did not respond.]

6. Richard Dirk Matson ’77, Ligonier, Pa.

Our in-state tuition was recently ranked the highest nationally in the nation for a public university by US News. In 2001, the tuition for a PSU freshman was $7,000. In 2011, it was nearly $15,000. It doubled in ten years. We can legitimately argue the value of a Penn State education is worth the cost or we can state that we are not a purely public institution, thus the comparison with other public institutions is not fair. However, the fact that our tuition doubled in 10 years is troubling.  Many of the solutions for this problem are the same as outlined in my answer for securing our financial future. We need to reduce expenses, reclaim our honor and our “brand,” vigilantly market our qualities, and seek additional revenue thru private/public/university partnerships. My goal is to seek a budget with a tuition increase of no more than 2%.

7. Craig W. Micklow ’69, Southlake, Texas

[Did not respond.]

8. Patricia Marrero ’88, Hoboken, N.J.

It is Penn State’s duty as the state school to keep in-state tuition as affordable as possible. Penn State provides a world-class education along the lines of many private institutions and needs to keep costs in line with choices for in-state students. That being said, applications to attend Penn State are at an all-time high and students across the country see value in choosing whether to attend Penn State or another institution. As long as there is demand, it will be hard to lower the out-of-state tuition. I was out-of-state, took loans, worked 2 jobs and still managed to graduate in 4 years. It can be done.

9. Edward A. Paskey II ’94, ’97 JD, York, Pa.

First, I think we should consider what some other universities have: a moritornium on tuition increases for a period of time. While certain to cause pain in other parts of the budget, continued increase in tuition will discourage potential applicants. Penn State may have to start looking at themselves more as a business to see, at least in the short term, what fiscally conservative decisions can be made to reduce expenses. Finally, greater investment in techonology as it relates to classrooms and methods of teaching may pay great dividends in the future that will help contain tuition costs. Like all of us, Penn State is simply going to have to be creative to do more with less without deminishing the quality and value of the education it provides.

10. David E. Robbins ’78, Broomall, Pa.

TEN Ways to Stem Rising Tuition:

1 – Imagination Initiatives – Establish a modest financial pool (vetted by an alumni panel) to reward students and faculty who submit creative ideas that implement cost reductions and revenue generation.

2 – Renaissance Professors – Promote a culture of cross-competency in faculty to cover a broader range of teaching and serve as role models to advance love of learning for its own sake.

3 – Imagine Penn State’s Future and Create It – BOT must focus on anticipating opportunities and needs in fulfilling its mission of guidance and oversight.

4 – Lawmaker Involvement – Enlist legislators (especially alumni) in strategic planning thus appropriating them as stakeholders in University’s continued success.  Make PSU indispensable to the Commonwealth by envisioning a distinctive role for the University in advancing Commonwealth’s interests.

5 – Actualize Alumni – Capitalize on collective knowledge, influence and commitment of alumni (i.e., relationships with shared revenue potential, volunteerism).  Exercise political influence by tapping alumni network.

6 – Embracing change – Use faculty expertise in recognizing developments as a source of potential efficiencies.

7 – Telecommunications – Deployment of audio/visual technology allowing students and professors to see/hear one another from multiple campuses.

8 – Volunteerism – Enlist student efforts within a student’s curriculum at the University as a way of expanding the “classroom” and supporting University functions.

9 – Multiple use of facilities – Repurposing facilities to many uses.

10 – PSU’s Think Tank – identify areas of specialized intellectual value and capitalize on those resources in a financial sense.

11. Martin R. Davis ’86, Pottsville, Pa.

[Did not respond.]

12. Stephen M. Hladik ’89, Harleysville, Pa.

The accessibility of a Penn State education is a hallmark of our university. Unfortunately, compared with other state-affiliated institutions of higher learning, Penn State’s tuition is currently among the highest. This should be a top concern for the Board of Trustees. The implementation of greater accountability, openness and transparency referenced in my previous answer will be of great help in controlling costs and ensuring the affordability of a Penn State education. As I also mentioned in the previous answer, every area of the budget must be examined to see where cost savings may be achieved in order to stem the continued tuition increases that students have encountered. With maintaining internal fiscal responsibility, the Trustees must also implement new ways of obtaining increases in aid from the state and federal government.  Increased efficiencies through technology are vital to save costs as well.

13. Timothy Michael Freeman ’90, Short Hills, N.J.

[Did not respond.]

14. Amy L. Williams ’80, Wayne, Pa.

As this question is an extension of the first,  the below recommendations are  meant to be complimentary to the above:

Evaluate expenses  by college, branch campus  and develop an ROI approach of  investing.

Change the paradigm from one of a strictly Higher Education “business” model to adopting characteristics of a business/ free market model within the University.

Ensure healthy competition among our colleges and majors to ensure we are offering majors which are valued in the work place and which are covering their costs.   Re-evaluate offering  those majors which are not meeting these metrics.  Redirect these funds to colleges and majors which have met prescribed ROIs and metrics.

Rank colleges and majors by the % of students with job offers after graduating.

15. Joseph H. Clapper III ’92g, Sewickley, Pa.

It is critical that Penn State maintain an “affordable” status for prospective students.  In order to do so, a multi-pronged approach must be established.

First, Penn State must work closely with today’s high schools to provide a variety of creative “dual enrollment” offerings.  This can be done through either World Campus or other venues using technology.  A reduced tuition arrangement could be established with students/families and school districts.  I have already created this kind of partnership for my school district with Penn State Beaver.  These opportunities must be expanded as many college-bound seniors are prepared to meet the rigors of postsecondary education.

A second approach to make college affordable is to increase work-study opportunities and scholarships for students.  Funding for these opportunities could come corporate or not for profit partnerships.  The university should seek ways to weave experiential learning of students into for credit applications toward degree programs or electives.  These extremely worthwhile, planned experiences could help to reduce or defray costs of tuition.

Finally, the university must become more aggressive relating to fund raising for scholarships for students.   The mantra ought to be this:  Do not deny any capable student the opportunity to enroll and succeed at Penn State University.

16. Jonathan L. Wesner ’65, Reading, Pa.

In addition to the appropriation cuts referred to in the first question, costs within the University itself are a factor. Yet Penn State’s faculty-to-student ratio is about average for the Big Ten, so I do not believe cutting staff is necessarily an answer. Likewise, the salaries are not the highest in our Conference. What is starkly apparent, however, is that we may not be “putting Pennsylvanians first.”  All other schools in the Big Ten have a much greater spread between resident and non-resident tuition. In most instances, the latter is almost TRIPLE the former. I believe this is unfair and that we should support our home grown students. Another area where costs could be saved in is “Going Green.” Wherever possible, renewable resources should be utilized.

17. Victor S. Provenzano ’02, Enola, Pa.

[Did not respond.]

18. Marta Pepe Forney ’00, Doylestown, Pa.

Penn State needs to compare the in-state to out-of-state ratio as compared to neighboring state schools and state schools of the Big Ten. Many schools’ out-of-state tuition is two to three times that of the in-state where as Penn State’s is not even double, which is placing strain on Pennsylvanians. Secondly, the school should consider tuition freezes. This can be either university wide or by year of enrollment.  For example, a 2012 student would pay the same tuition throughout their degree program. Then a 2013 student would have a slightly higher tuition, however will remain at that rate for the duration of their degree program. Lastly, staff consolidation, staff salary and benefits, as well as purchasing agreements within and among campuses must be considered.

19. Dona M. (Davis) Horst ’81, ’83g, Annapolis, Md.

[Did not respond.]

20. J. Michael Murphy ’80, Downingtown, Pa.

[Did not respond.]

21. Darlene A. Marley ’77, ’80g, Leonardo, N.J.

While the tuition at Penn State for both in-state and out-of-state students is higher than many state-supported institutions in other states, it reflects certain economic realities. State funding, infrastructure costs and even geographic location impact each school’s ability to meet expenses. While I support a thorough review of all University income and expenditures, I believe it would be unrealistic to assert that tuition expenses can be reduced in any meaningful way in today’s economy.

I believe that cost-saving and revenue-generating efforts should be an ongoing project for the University.  But I believe it is equally important to come up with new and innovative “direct-to- student” funding. The administration and alumni should work together to promote more private sector scholarships, grants and low interest loans to students. Large businesses should be contacted to create corporate-sponsored scholarships. Businesses surrounding all the campuses need to be solicited for student aid and work study programs.

Congress and the State legislature can help minimize the fiscal impact by making low-cost loans available. Instead of cutting loan programs, lawmakers should be urged to expand student loan opportunities.Lending institutions participating in these programs should be limited in the interest rates charged (rates should be slightly above the Prime Rate) in return for a government guarantee of payment. This is a concept that can be implemented with little impact on Federal and State budgets. The banks would still realize an acceptable return and students would have an available source of funds.

22. Anne Riley ’64, ’75g, Boalsburg, Pa.

Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses provide students with excellent courses of study in or near their home communities. Often four-year degree programs are available but always with the option of transfer to University Park for completion of a degree. We need to design courses that fit the needs of each community and campus and create an overall balance of academic offerings in one university geographically dispersed.

23. Karen Levine Weaver ’82, Franklin Lakes, N.J.

a) Penn State needs to re-evaluate current core curricula to determine whether the number of General Education credits required for a Bachelor degree can be reduced. Although these credits “enrich” a student’s education, they also contribute to a longer timeline for completion of a degree. The 4-year graduation rate has rapidly approached the 5 and 6-year mark. Universities in other countries (e.g. Bond University, Australia) do not require these extra credits. Bachelor degree programs can be completed in less than 3 years.

b) Penn State needs to continue to lobby state government for support of continuing state appropriations.

c) Penn State needs to look at other technology options for completion of credits via online classes.

d) Penn State should obtain the services of independent auditors who can objectively review university budgets and habits to make recommendations for cost-savings opportunities.

e)  Alumni should elect BOT members who are not wealthy and who have paid out-of-pocket tuition and taken huge loans. These members would better represent the hardship of paying for college education and for dealing with ever-increasing tuition costs from the average student’s and parent’s perspective.

24. Joseph C. Atkinson ’92, Chalfont, Pa.

A recent study by the College Board noted that, since 1978, not only did tuition increases outpace the cost of living, they also outpaced the rising cost of healthcare. We’ve been actively debating healthcare across this country — it’s time college tuition enjoyed the same attention.  We cannot ask employees of our university or students and families who pay tuition to bear the burden alone.  Today’s colleges deliver an education in essentially the same way our founders did over 150 years ago.  It’s time to bring the power of Penn State’s research, innovation and insights to bear on a problem that vexes not just us, but universities across the country.  And no doubt we all recognize that getting this right is not just about tuition costs, but about ensuring this country educates leaders prepared to compete in a global, digital economy.

Penn State must explore new ways to deliver a world-class educational experience and identify new sources of value that can help sustain the future of our University.  World Campus is a terrific example of our ability to innovate intelligently, fulfill our mission and do so at a lower cost.  But the “traditional” college experience must get the same treatment.  We can no longer afford to operate pieces of Penn State like fiefdoms, instead we need to operate as a more integrated enterprise that takes full advantage of our scale, leverages technology and innovates constantly.  We must bring the change we teach in the classroom into the Boardroom.

25. Joshua D. Fulmer ’01, Easton, Pa.

While a reduced budget will require us to make difficult cuts that will affect the quality of student life, we have an obligation to the students to keep tuition affordable. If elected to the Board, one of my primary objectives will be to start a tuition locking program. Tuition should not increase during a student’s attendance at Penn State. It is only fair that a student know prior to committing to attend a University what the cost of that education will be, and students should not have to live in fear of substantial increases in tuition due to a reduction in state appropriations or a possible decision to become a private institution. Finally, we have a responsibility to make sure students understand what their obligations will be after completing their degree. If we can lock the tuition cost for the length of a student’s degree, then we can accurately predict the costs of attendance, and we should provide students with an estimate of the total debt that will be incurred, and the monthly payments they will be required to repay upon graduation, so that they can make an informed decision.

26. Jayne E. Miller ’76, Baltimore, Md.

Penn State must shed the label “Most Expensive” public university in the country for  in-state students. It was bestowed last year by US News & World Report. In its place must be “Best Value.” Budget reform, as discussed above, is the first step to tuition reform. Government and business all over the country are evaluating how much they spend and where. Penn State must do the same. Salaries and benefits, programs and services, capital costs—all must be evaluated with the consistent goal of achieving the best affordable education in the country. At the same time, fundraising effectiveness must be examined along with new sources of revenue. Penn State can prove it can be a world class institution with tuition rates that are competitive and manageable for students and families determined to achieve excellence in higher education.

27. Sam Y. Zamrik ’61g, ’65g, Mesa, Ariz.

This question is a most troubling issue for all institutions. Tuition is part of the income Universities rely on for academic growth an important component of the budget. We had continuous increases in tuition for 10 years, causing alarming growth with student’s debt in economic downtrends and parental hardship. The Governor announced 30% cut in state funding compared to 18 % last year. Engineering departments have been told to cut budget by 2%, a hardship on their programs. To overcome this hardship, some universities have modest increases around 3%, others like Arizona State University announced a freeze next year. To address tuition issue:

a) Sound fiscal planning and greater operating efficiency. Combine operations that can be managed in each office. Since we have commonwealth campuses, we can process payroll, purchasing by a regional center to minimize overhead expenses.

b) Encourage legislative officials to recognize education is the future of the commonwealth and investing in Penn State is an assurance for developing future leaders. It is the Governor’s responsibility to support higher education. Government has many wasted programs where cuts can be made to supplement educational programs.

c) Administrators should identify and root out wasteful practices, reevaluate staff structure and need.

d) Engage financial support of alumni to establish student scholarships relieving financial burden, enlist alumni Donors to establish more endowments.

e) Increase online programs to generate more revenues.

28. Joanne C. DiRinaldo ’78, Pittsburgh, Pa.

PSU has the highest in-state tuition rates for a public institution.  At an alarming rate we are increasing our serviceable debt and our administrative and operating costs , while our available funding is decreasing. I propose the following initiatives:

  • expanding scholarship opportunities for students;
  • strengthening online course offerings;
  • expanding internship programs and overseas opportunities by leveraging industry funding;
  • streamlining and facilitating open communication  between University Park and the satellite campuses;
  • maintaining a successful Penn State education accessible to all students; “having a college education without going away from home”
  • establishing  more research opportunities for undergraduate students to work with faculty

29. Jefrey F. Wall ’74, ’76g, Ambridge, Pa.

I am the son of a middle class family, who sacrificed to provide me with the Penn State education that has helped define me. Nearly all my college friends’ parents were steelworkers, farmers, or small business owners. Today, a Penn State education for middle class families is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. I know first-hand because our family has just recently provided a Penn State education for our two daughters.

The question of the affordability of a Penn State education is inexorably linked to the “spend management” referred to in the first question. Every dollar saved on the expense side can be freed up to assist a Penn State student. Expense savings gleaned by a department or college could be directly targeted to assist students enrolled in that entity.

A greater emphasis needs to placed on reducing individual student costs, not just though financial aid to the most needy, but in a general lowering of tuition and fees. Admittedly, scholarships or other means of tuition assistance aren’t as “sexy” as a new building or facility. Perhaps the future planning for Penn State should be geared toward the affordability of a Penn State education, and not on the expansion of the physical plant. All the fancy new buildings in the world will be useless if the students can’t pay their tuition bills.

30. Stella M. Tsai ’85, Philadelphia, Pa.

As stated in my response to the first question, we need to do a better job of explaining the return on education to the public and making sure that it is priority in this Commonwealth once again. We do need to hold the line on tuition – and by doing so, we will continue to remain competitive for high quality students.

The leadership of Penn State needs to restore the trust of the alumni and the public at large We need to make sure that the public fully comprehends the amount of work that Penn State is doing to restore its trust after the Sandusky scandal.

31. Scott K. Munroe ’98, Catonsville, Md.

Penn State needs to freeze the cost of instate tuition until it is back in line with our neighboring states and institutions.  This may prove the most difficult financial endeavor for the Board and it will cause a lot of strain on our operating budgets.  It is however, extremely important to University’s mission to provide a quality and affordable education to deserving students in the State of Pennsylvania.  This step requires that the steps outlined in securing our financial future are met and successful.

It is important to realize that this has been done in Maryland for the entire University System of Maryland and was done during the height of the recession and budget cuts.  The University System of Maryland has emerged leaner and stronger and the tuition rate is now one of the lowest in the Mid-Atlantic region for instate tuition at a public University, and the quality of the programs and students as risen throughout this period.

It is likely that Penn State would have to freeze tuition for up to four years and then maintain a cap on the levels for future increases to ensure that affordability is maintained.  All of this will require us to rebuild the relationship we have with Harrisburg as I have described, since financial support and backing from the State will be critical through this effort.

32. Ronald C. Wagner Jr. ’89, Glenside, Pa.

The storm clouds aren’t on the horizon; they’ve arrived:  parents and students are questioning the value of a $100K+ education in the face of a dismal job market for recent or soon-to-be graduates, especially when the internet is allowing young  adults to start businesses on their  own without the benefit of a degree.

Penn State must take steps to stay relevant, different and better to weather the storm. And they can do that by challenging commonly-accepted conventional wisdom. This is part of my “expanding the classroom” initiative. A four-year degree can easily be reduced to three years by eliminating questionable electives and pre-requisites. On-line learning through the World Campus can reduce or eliminate the need for residence-based education.

Academic programs that don’t lead to sustainable, multi-generation careers must take a back-seat to degree offerings that provide a greater certainty of jobs upon graduation. Do these three things and you’ll attract and retain students, reduce expenses for them without having to sacrifice premium value and brand reputation.

33. Barry M. Simpson ’69, Harrisburg, Pa.

Tuition is rising for both in-state residents and for out-of-state residents. In-state students receive a large discount on tuition by reason of the state appropriations. If the state appropriations are reduced that discount is correspondingly reduced. It is therefore important to fight for those state appropriations.

However, in the face of declining appropriations what can be done? The choices are difficult. One choice is changing the ratio of in-state to out-of-state students by increasing the number of out-of-state students admitted. While this ratio can be tweaked, and doing so would keep in-state students’ tuition lower, it must be done prudently so that Penn State continues to meet its mission of educating qualified residents of Pennsylvania.

Seeking other sources of revenue, and cost containment, are two elements that must be considered. As the executive director of a large non-profit I know these are difficult to do and painful choices are often required. As a Trustee, I would want to be assured that all is being done that can be done in these two areas. Utilizing the commonwealth campuses and World Campus to permit students and their families the ability to manage their overall educational costs is another priority.

Finally, Penn State must develop a long term plan for a world without, or at best minimal, state appropriations. By doing so, it can create a bench mark for future tuition and manage if not eliminate the continuing need for annual increases in tuition caused by the corresponding reduction in appropriations from the state.

34. Robert J. Bowsher ’86, San Diego, Calif.

No issue impacts Penn State constituents more than the rising cost of tuition, and no issue threatens our alma mater’s future more than this one does.  It’s time for the university’s leadership to focus its efforts primarily on making a college education more affordable.

Offering lower-cost online courses to freshmen and sophomores would be a good step in the direction of affordability.  Another step would involve centralizing the development of these online courses in a Distance Learning Center rather than relying on each college to develop its own online curriculum.  The cost savings resulting from this synergy could then be passed on to students in the form of lower tuitions for online courses.

Prudent financial management of the university’s resources is another essential step that can result in cost savings passed on as tuition decreases.  Gone are the days when universities could mask financial mismanagement with tuition hikes.  Many students come from single-parent families now, households that can’t afford to foot the bill for excessive spending by university officials.

Last but not least, Penn State must take the step of conducting a study to develop a breakthrough strategy for this financial crisis.  Our alma mater must fill this panel with its brightest minds, and then empower this panel with the necessary authority to implement the solutions that will make a college education more affordable and that will ultimately preserve Penn State’s future for many years to come.

35. O. Richard Bundy III ’93, ’96g, South Burlington, Vt.

In 2011 Penn State held the dubious distinction of being the most expensive public University in the United States for in-state students, and tuition and fees now represent the largest component of Penn State’s overall $4.1 billion budget at $1.3 billion (31.7%).

In order to ensure access and affordability for the next generation of students, Trustees must resist the temptation to view tuition increases as a sustainable budget balancing solution.  Penn State can take significant steps towards making college more affordable by reducing the growth in institutional expenses so that tuition increases slow or stop altogether and increasing the four-year graduation rate so that students pay tuition for fewer semesters.  For example, every 1% reduction in the overall Penn State operating budget generates savings equivalent to avoiding a 3% tuition increase.  Another example:  Penn State’s four year graduation rate is 64.7%; the five year graduation rate improves significantly to 83.9%.  Each year that a student stays at University Park beyond their fourth year can add between $17,000 and $19,000 to their total cumulative tuition expense.  Penn State must take all efforts to ensure that students who want to graduate in four years have access to the courses, counseling, and other services they need to meet that objective.

36. Vincent J. Tedesco Jr. ’64, State College, Pa.

Penn State must totally review the elements that make up its budget and change priorities to ensure that affordable tuition are one of its top priorities. Of course the first step must be to get the Trustees to begin to regain it’s honor by admitting it handled the firing of Coach Paterno very badly and promise to conduct it business in an open manner.

37. John W. Diercks ’63, ’67g, ’75g, State College, Pa.

I support holding tuition increases to the rate of inflation or lower as a priority in my position statement for the Board of Trustees.  How can this priority be met?  I suggest a three-prong approach involving the University, students, and the Alumni Association.

The University should continue its periodic strategic reviews with the goal of reducing costs and shifting the savings into holding down tuition increases.  The recent construction binge needs to come to an end.  New construction is often paid for through donations and State funds, but building maintenance following construction adds to fixed costs and results in tuition increases.

Students should be encouraged to improve planning for their college education to avoid becoming “super seniors” and adding to their overall tuition costs.  Many students also take light course loads.  These students can increase their load and take more credits per semester with the goal of graduating a semester early.  Tuition doesn’t increase for a student beyond a load of 12 credits per semester.

The Alumni Association can assist by establishing and widely publicizing a specific fund directed only to helping students with tuition costs.  This fund would be over and above funds collected for specific scholarships.  The funds collected in the “Tuition Reduction Fund” would be distributed by a pre-determined formula to all students across the University, including all campuses.  For example, a yearly collection of $50 million would mean a $500 to $600 tuition reduction for every full-time Penn State student.

38. Edward (Ted) B. Brown III ’68, State College, Pa.

Clearly, my comments in #1 answered this partially. Endowments support scholarships. In the early days of the Farmers High School, tuition was free. Penn State will never return to those days. Today, Penn State is one of the best values in the Academic world. To maintain our leadership, we must have the best faculty, researchers, facilities and students. We will continue to have all those through fund raising and endowments. But think how many Penn State Alumni have not contributed the minimum: Alumni Association membership.  Penn State Trustees, the University, its faculty, the Alumni, and the students need to be energized. The quality of the typical incoming student is already superb. Think what it would be with more Academic Scholarships. We need to increase Internships that will educate students, provide services to business, industry and government and help with tuition. Why don’t we create endowments that support student loans? Penn State could then use the money over and over forever. Or combine loans and scholarships, where the graduate pays back only part of the money.

39. James R. Antoniono ’71, Greensburg, Pa.

This is a continuation of the answer to Question 1: That is one half of the equation; the other half is to raise more money. In today’s environment, many non-profits are looking at starting for-profit business as a way of replacing shrinking government funds.

A mistake all boards commonly make is to believe that all problems must be solved among the board members. In a University settling we are blessed with being surrounded by great minds. When there are difficult problems to solve or issues to explore, I am in favor of creating an ad hoc “Task Force” chaired by a Board member but composed of board members, facility and alumni to explore issues and solve problems.

Penn State has one of the most recognized brands in the county; we need to make use of that brand. When I was President of the Student Government, we fought the University to open a book store on campus. We were opposed by the University because of some agreement they were suppose to have with the town. We finally opened the first used book store on campus in the HUB and now there is a great bookstore on campus. We can cross pollinate our academic disciplines to come up with new and innovative ways to make money to lower tuition cost.  We should be able to be able to leverage our billions of dollars in endowments into profit making ventures and use this money to lower tuition rates

40. David L. Roush ’04, Bronx, N.Y.

a. Redouble efforts by the University Development Department to build endowment for in-state need-based scholarships. While merit-based awards are important for attracting top-performing students, some top-performers already have the means to pay, yet are partaking of funds that, if directed to the right needy student, could mean the difference between them attending or not.

b. Work towards a system of guaranteed minimum scholarship awards to ALL in-state students offered admission to the University. Create a system where the incentive for in-state students to enroll locally is generated by University and Philanthropic funds, and not from a state taxpayer-funded discount.

c. Self-contained independent community colleges remain a very affordable option in some areas of the country. The University should investigate the feasibility of transitioning commonwealth campuses toward functioning similarly to the Auxiliary Enterprise units. That is, become more self-supporting, living on their own independent budgets like a community college of similar size and enrollment.

d. Move towards a more multi-tiered tuition rate system, with the smallest commonwealth campuses, serving the most economically depressed regions, having significantly lower tuition rates than larger campuses in more economically diverse regions.

e. Create a division within the Office of Student Aid specifically charged with researching and creating a database of every private scholarship opportunity in the state, including those for high school seniors. Many high schools do a great job of this in their own communities, while others do not. Think of it like internship or job-placement for scholarships NOT awarded by the University.

41. David A. Dell ’76, Strasburg, Pa.

Step one; continually drive to a more efficient education process by taking steps as the College of Agriculture is taking at this time. The College of Agriculture is restructuring from twelve departments to nine. This change will improve education by focusing on core curriculum and removing processes and activities not needed for the future.

Focus the university administration and faculty on the priorities of the university, education first, research second. Determine the importance and quantity of each faculty member’s time in the classroom versus other activities they are engaged in today.  Partner with other universities, streamlining the curriculum and majors to a core offering.

Leverage the Commonwealth campus system providing greater “local” opportunities to reduce the total cost of education for more students. More classes delivered locally.

Increase the application of education technology to reach more students through the World Campus and between University Park and Commonwealth campuses to increase the teaching hours and efficiency of valuable faculty.

Increase the direct involvement of alumni and industry leaders in the classrooms improving curriculum content and the practical value of the Penn State education.

42. Russell T. Larson ’72, ’74g, Dover, Del.

Every year I read the national publications showing how the states compare on funding and tuition prices. I’m now in Delaware which can’t exactly brag about its tuition rate. On the other hand, Penn State is consistently in the upper levels of student tuition as a percentage of the total cost of education. Clearly, tuition at Penn State is outpacing the ability of many Pennsylvanians to be able to afford to attend.  The only ways to change that are 1. Provide more state or private funding and 2. Reduce the cost of the education.  The issue of state funding I addressed in the first response. The issue of the cost of an education is far more difficult to address.  What does it take to hire and keep the highest quality teaching and research staff?  How much should be spent to continue building the campus as it grows into one of the largest, most diverse, and progressive universities in the country? What does it cost to run a university? I would tackle these and other fiscal questions starting on day one if elected.

43. Jonathan Mills ’86, Orlando, Fla.

In the 1970’s tuition accounted for only thirty percent of the University operating budget.  Currently, tuition is over seventy five percent of the current operating budget.  This is a huge shift over the years.  Penn State has become one the most expensive public universities in the country with tuition costs at roughly $15,000 per year for an in-state student.

—Penn State has had a strong history for fund raising.  The Board of Trustees should reassess the development initiatives to focus on scholarships and funds directed to students rather than continued facilities additions and capital developments.

—Penn State should maximize the use of technology in education.  The World Campus program is a great start in not only saving dollars for students, but extending outreach. Global outreach should be a revenue stream for Penn State.

—I would like to see greater acceptance of high school honors and advanced placement programs. In these programs, college credits are earned prior to high school graduation.  This would be another way to reduce tuition, room & board dollars paid by each student.  It is our responsibility as a Land Grant University to provide higher education to residents of our state.  This should be a priority for the Board.

44. Gregory S. “Sandy” Sanderson ’00, Glenshaw, Pa.

[Did not respond.]

45. Rudolph K. Glocker ’91, ’93g, Henderson, Nev.

Penn State should take three major steps to combat the rising cost of tuition. These are defining an affordable cost, cutting expenses and focusing on value creation. Penn State should determine an affordable cost for a Pennsylvania resident to obtain a Penn State degree. A starting point for this discussion would be a cost a middle class Pennsylvania family can afford (without taking on massive debt), assuming they have two children. The University needs to recognize this cost and ensure that in-state tuition does not rise above this level. By using this cost as a ceiling, it will force the Board and the Administration to make difficult decisions in the near future as opposed to filling the budget gap by raising tuition. Cutting costs is critical. With a +$4,000,000,000 annual budget, however, a 2% ($80,000,000 or more than $1500 per full time student) cut is feasible. Private enterprise does this all the time. Penn State needs to evaluate and adapt its cost structure for the 21st century. Finally, Penn State needs to make sure it increases the value of a Penn State education, “price is what you pay, value is what you get.” The University needs to make sure that a student is getting back far more than $1 in value for the $1 they pay in terms of tuition, fees, housing, food and opportunity cost. If the University provides outstanding value, students and their families will find Penn State more affordable.

46. Richard L. Marshall ’92, Mount Kisco, N.Y.

Penn State should look into programs to maintain tuition for incoming students.  For example, Penn State should consider options for students to lock in tuition rates upon initial enrollment.  Penn State can also expand its prepaid tuition programs and target such incentives to early commitments.

In addition, to make tuition more affordable, the University can use donations to offset the cost of tuition rather than just as an offset of scholarships.  The University also needs to look at reigning in costs overall.  Expenditures like parking lot expansions, conversion of double rooms into single rooms (except in places like Schreyer Honors College where this is a competitive advantage), and other measures to improve the student experience re-evaluated to determine whether they are necessary.  The Board also should investigate how underutilized facilities (like Willard building) can be repurposed or retrofitted with current technology to replicate the experience in newer buildings like the Joab Thomas Classroom Building.

All major construction projects should be reevaluated for need and construction spending should focus on necessary repairs (such as South Halls renovations) and upgrades.  The Board should focus on direct cost comparisons on the budget from 1992 as tuition has tripled in that amount of time.  The University should consider corporate sponsorships for building projects and other construction.  As an incentive for the potential sponsors, the University can tie-in internship programs, which would involve students to the benefit of the sponsor and the students.

47. Lisa W. Witzig ’79, Denver, Colo.

Penn State has many options it can pursue to hold down costs for students—both undergraduate and graduate—that combine creativity, common sense, and business savvy.  For example, students should be required to meet with advisors every semester to eliminate surprises and extra semesters.  The University could reduce tuition charges and fees for students pursuing internships, because the University is only covering administrative costs.  Moreover, the University should engage more alumni to sponsor paid internships for students and think creatively about using technology to help students with “virtual” internships.  Indeed, students should be counseled early in their Penn State experience that they will leave with two documents – a degree and a resume – that will help them pursue success after graduation.    Penn State should establish formal, three-year baccalaureate degrees for students who are mature enough to stay focused and finish ahead of others.  While students should be encouraged to save money by living at home and attending Commonwealth Campuses, standards for quality teaching at these campuses should be strengthened to ensure that students are prepared for the coursework at University Park and can be successful.  Penn State should expand its online courses and degrees as well, eliminating the need for room-and-board for some students. Online programs also can be used to meet the needs of local communities where a Commonwealth Campus is not economically feasible.  Additionally, Penn State should expand its ROTC program, to include increasing the number of scholarships.

48. Paul J. Malaspina ’77, ’80g, Erie, Pa.

Our best response is to maximize the value proposition of investing in a Penn State education while keeping tuition as low as possible.  All courses of academic study, indeed all legitimate forms of philosophical inquiry, have intrinsic value. However, we need to amplify the magic that Penn State already knows how to perform– produce those graduates that business, industry and graduate schools want, which means our graduates get real jobs in great careers.

Maximize the Penn State graduate’s employability, and be known for doing so.  Make work-study, internships, modular competency certifications and capstone projects the norm, in essentially all majors — not just in isolated pockets. Innovate ways to meet industry’s needs and society’s needs directly. The Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering (IBE) program at Penn State Erie is a great example. The magic isn’t pulling the rabbit out of the hat — it is getting the affordable, worthwhile rabbit into the hat in the first place.

49. Henry B. Swoope V ’96, Alexandria, Va.

It appears as if the current President of the United States wants to tackle this issue as well by redirecting federal financial aid from universities that raise college costs to those that are taking steps to keep costs in check or lower them.  A great idea in theory, but will it work in practice?  I hope we get a chance to see.  In the meantime, we should be developing new strategies to capture today’s tuition dollars for tomorrow’s education.  We are all familiar with 529 Plans, but why can’t we offer privatized plans through our university that allow us to increase cash flow today while offering benefits to those who participate for their children’s future?  Certain parameters and guidelines can be set that then need met later to “cash in” on the benefits of this privatized plan, but there has to be a way to manage it.  Thus Penn State’s cash flow cycle is much more attractive than it is today.

50. Scott O. Fozard ’89, State College, Pa.

Penn State is a multi-faceted organization with a multitude of offerings to its stakeholders. Education has been and will continue to be the foundation of Penn State and its mission for student excellence. As such, the relative contribution from Penn State’s students is appropriately a significant share of Penn State’s revenue (27 – 32% over the last 10 years). A college education has been and probably always will be the best investment that anyone can make in themselves or their future. The value of a college education as measured by future earnings far outpaces the cost of college tuition. All that said, we have to be careful how we define “affordability” as it relates to the value that Penn State does or does not provide to its stakeholders. I keep referring to stakeholders because Penn State reaches and affects many more groups than just students, alumni or faculty. It is the combined impact to all stakeholder parties that makes Penn State who it is today and how its cost is supported by a relative value. Is a college education expensive? It certainly is. Is Penn State among the most expensive public institutions? It certainly is. Does Penn State provide a higher value to its stakeholders than does its competitors? I certainly hope that is the case and it is our job as alumni and Penn State leaders to ensure that its value is maximized…through appropriate tuition levels coupled with exceptional value.

51. Michael J. Carroll ’04, Fairfax, Va.

The economy has affected everyone in this country in various ways.  Everyone has been forced to cut corners, students and parents of students alike.  This drop in higher education financing should not force the University to decrease entrance standards; rather we should be steering our academic standards to recruit top-tier professors and students.

Pursuing the endeavors listed above to help keep the cost of tuition affordable, but now is not the time to cut corners on academic standards. The University should seek to increase endowments to provide scholarship opportunities for students who seek the excellent education opportunities at Penn State. Striving to secure Penn State’s financial future includes the need to focus on supporting excellent students of all economic levels in their pursuit of higher education.

52. Barbara L. Doran ’75, New York, N.Y.

Tuition has been steadily climbing for over a decade at a rate of over 8%, faster than increases in the cost-of-living and medical expenses, with most projections to continue at 6%+. Most analyses show that tuition increases have been driven by rising spending on administrative and student support services; an escalating amenities arms race as colleges compete to attract the best and the brightest of a rising number of applications by building bigger and better facilities; and the need to make up significant reductions in government subsidies. The latter have been steadily reduced since 1978, when federal, state and local governments contributed 50% of revenues: by 2009, they contributed just 32%. The national average for tuition as a percentage of revenue is 22%: at Penn State, it is 78%.

As outlined in the previous answer, many steps can be considered to halt or slow tuition hikes: campaigning for more state aid; comprehensive cost-cutting; increasing high-margin online enrollment; endowment performance review; changing the mix of the student body to higher-paying, out-of state students. The latter would engender a serious reevaluation of Penn State’s widely presumed mission of educating primarily Pennsylvania residents.

At the heart of the budding debate, too, about whether to remain public or to go private, is whether going private can allow us to be more flexible and efficient in resource allocation, closing or cutting various offshoots they may be starving the main corpus of needed resources, yet contribute little to the university mission.

53. Thomas J. Day Jr. ’88, Washington, Pa.

To decrease tuition, here are a few ideas to consider:  Freeze administrative salaries.  In these difficult economic times, many people wish they had salaries to freeze.  Before we build more buildings, let’s make sure we are fully utilizing our existing space by expanding our class schedule to fully include mornings, evenings, and Friday’s.  According to a 2005 story in Inside Higher Ed the number classes at Penn State scheduled for 8:00 a.m. has decreased over 46% from 1993 to 2005.  The Penn State Strategic Plan, Section 7.2, acknowledges:  “Classroom space at University Park is near fully utilized between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00. p.m. on a typical day, but much capacity is under-utilized at other times of the day.  While a notable reduction in the classroom utilization has occurred at 8:00 a.m., mid and late afternoon scheduling remains significantly lower.”

Explore the potential to share our abundance of labs and lab equipment with other universities, for a fee of course.  Let’s turn these idle assets into revenue producing streams.  Evaluate our core curriculum, and look for opportunities to eliminate courses that are esoteric, or overly narrow in scope.  We have hundreds of courses to choose from for general education, and these types of courses cost more to provide.  Let’s explore offering tuition rebates for students to complete their degree in four years, or less.  By getting our internal fiscal house in order, and maximizing our utilization of our facilities and equipment, we lesson our budgetary dependence on tuition.

54. Ben Novak ’65, ’99g, Immokalee, Fla.

In the mind of the legislature, the purpose of the state appropriation is to keep tuition low. But, according to US News and World Report, among public universities, Penn State has the “highest tuition and fees for in-state students” in the country. Governor Corbett recently challenged Penn State to do something about it, saying, “If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down.”  Simply put, when the appropriation is applied to reduce tuition, state support is justified. When it isn’t, state support declines.  A great deal of the tuition increase comes from the increasing cost of administration at Penn State. According to the most recent long-term study, between 1993 and 207, Penn State increased the number of administrators per 100 students by 70.8%, while increasing the number of teaching and research staff by only 5.3%. During the same period tuition increased 83.6%.   At the University of Pittsburgh, on the other hand, while administrators per 100 students increased 54.7%, teaching and research staff increased by a corresponding 61.7%, while tuition increased by only 71.9%.  Penn State will have to get its priorities straight to deal with the rising cost of higher education

55. George T. Henning Jr. ’63, State College, Pa.

Fortunately, Penn State has developed significant programs in the past that somewhat ameliorate the affordability issue.  The ability to attend a commonwealth campus close to home is a prime example.  Penn State also offers significant scholarship aid to low income students and is currently raising additional significant scholarship funds to provide economic assistance to students. The efforts to increase scholarship funding must continue.  As President of the Renaissance Scholarship Fund, I am well aware of the need for additional scholarship aid.

My experience on the Board from 2004 through 2010 included visiting 10 of our Commonwealth Campuses and serving on a strategic planning committee for student learning.   Steps for the University to address the issue of affordability include cost containment that I discussed in the first question.  The development of more online teaching, additional courses at commonwealth campuses and permitting students to move freely between the campuses are all ideas to be explored.  I believe we need innovative programs that permit more flexibility in completing degree programs so students can leave the University for a year or two and then return to the classroom.  A review of programs at other Universities may also provide additional opportunities.

56. Jeffrey A. Krisciunas ’94, ’11g, Philadelphia, Pa.

First, in conjunction with how to handle state appropriation shortfalls, I believe a clear step is the support of endowments.  I have seen first-hand how endowments have aided Penn State with my work with The Four Diamonds Fund at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center.  With endowing over $30M at Hershey over the past several years, we are able to attract top-notch pediatric oncology research physicians in the hope of one day conquering pediatric cancer.

While endowments have had one of the best growth records over the past 4 years, Penn State’s overall ranking in the Big Ten is in the bottom half for overall endowment size.  That needs to change! Some of our Big Ten rivals have greater than quadruple the size of our endowments.  Endowments for more student scholarships and grants can be used to insure we attract talented students to the university, while also minimizing some of that financial burden.

As a CFO, I would be remiss not discussing the importance of corporate governance and internal budget controls. We need to take a long-term approach to our planning process, and insure we are not creating long-term financial burden, which may result in increased tuition costs.

Third, continue to leverage the Penn State brand in growing areas of education and research.  The expanded use of other educational programs such as World Campus and additional Commonwealth campus courses, and the growth of research at our medical center at Hershey; should be at the top of our list.

57. Seth T. Walizer ’00, Fleetwood, Pa.

[Did not respond.]

58. Joseph C. Korsak ’71, York, Pa.

Reduce in state tuition by 10%. Increase out of state rates by a corresponding percentage to offset revenue loss. Penn State resident’s tuition shall not increase by more than 5% total in the first two years. Penn state becomes a lender of first choice with loan forgiveness for those entering some form of public service.

59. Anthony P. Lubrano ’82, Exton, Pa.

[Did not respond.]

60. Marlene “Myke” Atwater Triebold ’72, Niceville, Fla.

First, I recommend a moratorium on building of new facilities.  Even though many of the new facilities have been built with the use of private donations (which makes us look like a private university with donor’s names on the facility), the cost of maintenance, staffing, and operation gets absorbed by the general budget which explains why our operating budgets are ballooning.  Initiate an exploration with other universities to address how they have managed to keep their tuition down—investigate and implement ideas that have worked.  Initiate an exploration with other major corporations to address cost saving measures. Penn State has a wealth of alumni who have tremendous knowledge leading profitable organizations. Formation of a group separate and apart from the board of trustees to make independent suggestions of improvement should be sought.

61. Samuel M. Loewner ’10, Reston, Va.

As any administrator will tell you, the most expensive item in Penn State’s budget is personnel. Although it is easy to point at construction and building maintenance as examples of excess, one of the largest factors contributing to increased tuition – at Penn State and elsewhere – is “administrative bloat.” Universities like Penn State have hired non-instructional staff at an incredible rate over the last two decades.

Some of these staff members perform essential functions, and they alone are not responsible for the increase in tuition. Many, like those in the alumni relations and donor development divisions, are tasked with increasing revenue to support students. In difficult financial times, however, institutions have a responsibility to slow the growth of administrative support organizations. Penn State should become a national leader in combating the disturbing trend of administrative bloat.

As a trustee, I will work with my Board colleagues to set goals as a part of the Penn State strategic plan that set an ideal level for the ratio of non-instructional staff to instructional staff. This will allow us to publicly benchmark personnel growth over the next several years.

Trustees need to listen to the most important stakeholders at our institution: students. Students can tell us what services require more support and which they do not use. Instead of gambling with tuition dollars, the Board can use this information to make even more educated assessments about the budget and control costs in a way that actually supports education instead of hindering it.

62. Ryan M. Bagwell ’02, Middleton, Wis.

State funding is declining, and may never return to levels of the past. We must seek out replacement revenue streams that help our young people pursue the education they deserve without the burden of overwhelming debt.  The administration and Board of Trustees should focus on growing the university’s endowment and establish more scholarships for promising young people who may not otherwise be able to afford a college education. With the right leadership making forward-looking investment decisions, I believe we can substantially reduce tuition over the next decade or so. But any change begins with electing the right people who are committed to cutting costs where necessary and making college affordable for the next generation of Penn Staters.

63. John J. Mika ’85, Tower City, Pa.

Again, costs must be trimmed to make a college education affordable. This was an origional intention of the land grant status. One way may be to work with the NCAA to cut scholarships and give athletes a stippend. This would save money but could create problems. Also, if an athlete left school for the pros, they would be responsible to pay back the amount of their entire scholarship with a fine attached. PSU has great athletic facilities; renting the baseball complex or new ice arena to professional teams with hearty contracts is another way to keep rising costs down.

64. Chris C. Lindsley ’87, Takoma Park, Md.

a. Promote the Penn State 2+2 Plan, as explained in question No. 1.

b. We need to continue to set aside some of the additional revenue from tuition for need-based student aid. Giving everyone the opportunity to attend a Penn State campus regardless of need is an important part of Penn State’s mission, and implementing a more aggressive cost-reduction strategy (see Question 1) will help pay for this.

c. Make need-based grants in aid one of the cornerstones of the public phase of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This is an issue the Penn State community can rally around, but to do so, the campaign needs to be completely transparent and open in terms of its goals, money raised and how the money is used.

d. Expand the offerings and efficiencies of the Penn State World Campus to make this distance education program both an affordable and attractive option to more people. Penn State’s recent partnership with Destiny Solutions, a leading innovator in this area, is a positive step in that direction.

e. Publicize the financial aid the average Penn State student receives to come up with a “real” price for a Penn State education. The amount students pay can vary greatly based on need and other factors, and the Board needs to do all it can to keep tuition prices affordable, but it’s good for potential students and their parents to know just how affordable Penn State is or can be depending on one’s situation.

65. Edward H. Ridings III ’71, Lewistown, Pa.

Penn State may want to consider developing a branch that becomes a lending institution. Although lending money to students for tuition can create a large risk, it could also create long term income for the University. Penn State has always been excellent in motivating the alumni to donate, why not expand this ability to recovering the loan and interest income.  Penn State could structure the payment plans in a more individualized system that would encourage repayment. We could also do a much more thorough job in evaluating the needs of each individual student for loans and their ability to repay. Our goals at Penn State would be to produce competitively educated alumnae that are proud to repay us for their education. Lending institutions just want their money.

I am not even sure the thought above is financially feasible or legal but what needs to happen is we need to continue to “brainstorm” new solutions that should be evaluated.  The structure and legal details would need to be worked out by lawyers and others that are more expert in their fields than me.

Of course, continuing discussions with the Governor for more funding must never stop. Every dollar more in our state funding is one less dollar in someone’s tuition bill.

66. Thomas E. Kapelewski ’82, Bloomsburg, Pa.

President Obama, in his State of the Union speech in January, stated, “Let me put colleges and universities on notice:  If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down”.  Penn State must bring their costs in line or forfeit federal grant and loan dollars.  There are in-state tuition programs across the country that are successful, how are they doing it?  Have we ventured out to benchmark other leading institutions?  A fact finding visit to the more successful colleges may lead us down the right path.  Tuition increases are required to balance a budget of expenses; are there excessive expenses that are not needed but a “must” to keep up with other institutions?  According to Ronald Ehrenberg, the Director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, “ To look better than their competitors, the institutions wind up in an arms race of spending to improve facilities, faculty, students, research, and institutional technology”.  Are we driving up tuition to be the best university  by adding excessive spending?    Penn State needs to get back to the basics of business.  Keep the focus on resource allocation, increased efficiency, reduce costs, and avoid special interests. We must remember who our customers are, our  students…

67. Richard J. Puleo ’77, Lancaster, Pa.

Implement a two year degree program for those students that can’t afford to attend for (4) years.  Reduce the budget in areas that do not affect the quality of education such as energy cost for  Heating and cooling of the buildings.  Implement a study to determine what areas of the budget can be reduced without diminishing the quality of education currently being provided.

68. William F. Oldsey ’76, Basking Ridge, N.J.

Students and families cannot be repeatedly asked to shoulder the impact of declining appropriations and increasing costs through higher tuitions. We must constantly monitor our tuition against peer institutions and against cost of living/inflation metrics. We are a world class university, and our pricing should reflect that status, but we should never lose sight of the perceived value of a Penn State degree or competitive market conditions. We should increase our college readiness services for students to assist them in securing grants-in-aid, scholarships, and interest free support to help them offset tuition. Penn State should lead in the use of technology, online education methods, and digital learning platforms to reduce the cost of a traditional “bricks and mortar” education.

We should run our University in the same way a healthy corporation is run: constantly challenging administrators, staff, faculty, partners, and outside vendors to eliminate waste and reduce controllable expenses, without risking quality. Rule of thumb: if we are spending significantly on line-items or categories that do not directly improve educational outcomes or academic research and performance, STOP THAT SPENDING.

69. Pratima Gatehouse ’96, ’10g, Short Hills, N.J.

Penn State has an extremely high job placement rate for its graduates. Even at current tuition rates, Penn State is a value for the quality of education received.  That being said, I believe Penn State should stop the increase of in-state tuition to match the policy of top ranked Universities such as U of Michigan and U C Berkeley. Namely, in-state tuition should be 50% of out-of-state. This compliments our land grant mission and should also ensure that we retain as much state funding as the state will allow. This should be revisited if the state keeps cutting funding drastically. Additionally, I think we need to focus on increasing the amount of University funding given to high merit students that need aid, including those from middle class families that do not qualify for programs such as the Pell Grant. Tuition will rise with increased academic standing, which is reasonable as long as the education is still a value. My husband and I have endowed two scholarships. They provide $3500 per year per scholarship, which was close to what we received when we went to Penn State in the 90’s. The difference is that amount was equivalent to half our tuition then but is barely a quarter now. The For the Future campaign focuses on increasing the endowments for scholarships. We need to continue on that path to increase the amount and number of scholarships so Penn State will always be a high value education.

70. Kyle B. Heffner ’08, Pottsville, Pa.

Maximizing efforts in the gift giving department and encouraging alumni to continue and enhance their generous giving will help defray the costs and allow many more individuals to experience Penn State and graduate with a degree from one of the top universities in the country. Again, operating within the budget will also enable other funds to be allocated towards making Penn State more affordable for students. And not just operating within the budget, but operating effectively and ensuring only the wasteful spending is cut, is a major step that Penn State needs to take.

71. Thomas R. Davis ’82, ’85g, ’88g, Yardley, Pa.

[Did not respond.]

72. Matthew J. Sliwa ’01, Selbyville, Del.

Campaigns for endowed scholarships can have a dramatic effect for the students that qualify.  I think a greater effort to create more endowed scholarship funds can help defray the costs for some students.  When the University contacts the average donor, it is usually a student calling to update the donor on what is new at the University.  I get these calls all the time.  We need to shift that focus to why the University needs you, the donor, this year.  Specific campaigns targeting X number of scholarships and showing the benefits can go a long way.  A $100 donoation by each Penn State Family can create many many endowed scholarships.  Make them partial scholarships and that can allow many students a more affordable option to just loans and aid.

73. James P. Brandau ’03, Conshohocken, Pa.

The finest university serves little purpose if the best and brightest students cannot afford to attend. Penn State and other institutions have already effectively excluded many unable or unwilling to borrow $75,000 to attend. Tuition must be controlled. Costs need to be cut where feasible and the school needs to expand non-tuition sources of income. As discussed in the prior answer, the importance of Penn State to the Commonwealth needs to be made clear to the officials responsible for state appropriations. A cause of the financial problems the University faces each year is the manner in which the appropriations are legislated. Each year the University submits a funding request. The budget cutters then go to work in an effort to trim the request as much as possible. The appropriation is then set with little attention paid to the real needs of the Commonwealth’s flagship institution. A more grounded approach might be to establish an appropriate baseline appropriation and adjust it each year for inflation and agreed upon changes in the University’s mission (i.e. large capital expenditures.) The appropriation could be funded from a dedicated source, similar to the way lottery procedures are used to fund senior citizen programs. A suggestion might be to provide funding to higher education from a tax on Marcellus shale drillers. Certainly Pennsylvania’s burgeoning energy industry has benefited greatly from the extensive Marcellus research done at Penn State over the past decade.

74. Shawn D. Manderson ’03, Philadelphia, Pa.

I believe the University needs to become flexible in reducing unnecessary costs that are passed on to our students and increase fundraising efforts to help students manage their tuition costs. Adopting the region-based commonwealth campus system would enable the University to keep tuition affordable for our students by relying on the local campuses in each region to control tuition costs and fees which would be based on the local economic demand.

Tuition costs and fees for students can be reduced further by not allowing other University premium costs to be passed on to them.  This can be achieved by reviewing the budget for underperforming academic programs which are being funded. The resources and money from these academic programs can be shifted to flourishing academic programs to assist in offsetting operating expenses.

One of the responsibilities of this University to its students is to keep tuition accessible and affordable. I believe the University should consider increasing its efforts in fundraising for scholarships to assist students with their tuition cost and fees.

75. Terry F. Rakowsky ’82, Erwinna, Pa.

[Did not respond.]

76. Jack F. Beiter ’52, Devon, Pa.

[Did not respond.]

77. Adam J. Taliaferro ’05, Swedesboro, N.J.

[Did not respond.]

78. Mark S. Connolly ’84g, West Chester, Pa.

The University of North Carolina sets in state tuition at about $5600 per year. That’s $2800 per semester!!! And let’s not try to explain that by cost of living differences. There is something seriously wrong for PSU in state tuition to be $16000. The goal, in my mind, is to identify a plan to reduce tuition by $10,000  for each and every Pennsylvania resident. This plan cannot be developed without getting into the weeds of University finances. If elected I will undertake this. The students of a great land grant institution deserve no less.

79. Neal W. Biege Sr. ’67, Center Valley, Pa.

Penn State may now be the most expensive state university in the nation. According to the College Board, public four-year colleges charge on average $7,605 per year in tuition and fees for full-time in-state students. Ohio State University charges less than $10,000. Penn State’s tuition is currently around $16,000. Numerous factors have caused our tuition to become so high. Among those factors are: A lack of enough emphasis on cost reduction; and a lack of funding by the state. Penn State only receives 4-5% of its funding from the state.

High cost along with current negative publicity will likely cause student population to deteriorate, especially the higher paying out of state students which comprised 44% last year. A Penn State education used to be very attainable by in-state average income families who could afford it based on a mixture of parents’ support, student employment and loans.

My background as a General Manager provides the experience and the bold leadership to address this issue. Areas of focus could be:

a. Cut cost every way we can especially expanding the use of the latest teaching technology.

b. Use benchmarking to understand and beat the costs of the competition.

c. Get more state funding through political advocacy.

d. Continue high levels of donations by promoting the value of the university through all media channels.

5. Consider pruning out whole sections of the University that are the least cost effective when compared with other quality universities.

80. Casey A. Coyle ’06, Harrisburg, Pa.

While the cost of a college education has increased nationally, Penn State’s tuition is rising at a far greater rate. In fact, the average annual tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students at the University Park campus have increased nearly 17% since the 2006-07 school year — while the national average of tuition has increased by over 10%.

The rapid tuition increases have occurred as more and more of the Penn State’s revenue has been derived from tuition. For example, in 2004-05, tuition revenue totaled $892 million, making up 27.3% of the school’s overall revenue. For the 2010-11 school year, however, that figure was greater than $1.4 billion — or 31% of all university revenue. Remarkably, the tuition increases have also occurred as Penn State experiences record enrollment — 96,519 students were enrolled during the fall 2011 semester.

These figures seem to indicate that Penn State’s tuition crisis is of its own making, and not part of a national trend. As an alumni trustee, I will work with university officials to implement various cost-saving measures to ensure that tuition rates do not continue to climb at exponential rates. In particular, I will: reduce the number of administrators at Penn State; eliminate capital improvement projects that do not further the university’s educational mission; audit university contracts to ensure that Penn State is receiving fair market value for services and equipment it purchases; and, if necessary, ask employees to make a greater contribution to their employment benefits.

81. Andrew Tellep ’74, Mar Lin, Pa.

We should try to stabilize the cost of tuition. I assume that each year there is a thorough business analysis done on how we spend tuition money, specifically, and what our students get for it. If that’s not being done, we should start doing it. Then, with an approach that is pragmatic and student oriented, we should: a) Try to grow and enhance what we do well and efficiently for our students, while NOT trying to be their parents, entertainers, or social workers. b) Realize that some items like technology, energy efficiency, a global outlook, and teaching new skills will take investments. c) Not use tuition monies or state appropriations for anything considered tangential or unnecessary, for our students, in the completion of their degree programs. Other resources should be sought for such expenses. d) Consider that we are fortunate to have such a generous group of donors but we should double our efforts to have them donate toward areas that, in many cases, are funded through tuition. A specific list should be presented to donors concerning such areas. The “For the Future Campaign” was a step in the right direction but the things have changed since the beginning of that effort.

82. Gregory M. Kerwin ’71, ’75 JD, Lykens, Pa.

This question is related to question number 1. We must find ways to make a Penn State education more affordable for our students.  Many of our branch campuses offer four year degrees. I believe we should expand on these programs and add more at campuses that are growing and are profitable. This will help keep the cost down for our students and in the end provide them with a quality education and degree from Penn State.

We should look at programs which financially assist students who work part time; look into ways to be more creative with student loan programs, alumni partnered internships, educational savings accounts, scholarships and endowments.

All across the country, states are cutting back on their funding for higher education.  It is not  a unique problem for Penn State. While government funding has gone down, tuition costs have steadily increased. We need to learn from and exchange ideas with other states on what they are doing to address the problem. With so many young people impacted, solutions will be found.

We must constantly remind our leaders and politicians that the purpose and commitment of the legislature’s Act of April 1, 1863, in creating Penn State as the only land-grant institution, was to provide an affordable, quality education for the common man and woman of ordinary means.

83. Gregory H. Wolf ’77, State College, Pa.

Just as contributing members of American society deserve access to quality health care, capable young adults deserve access to a quality post-secondary education. Quite unfortunately, many people do not have the financial ability to make the investment required to secure a college education anywhere, let alone at Penn State. Clearly, many people need financial help if they are to access the education that will enable them to fully develop their capabilities. This is why in answer to the question regarding “declining appropriations”, I suggested a substantial increase in the efforts needed to expand the University’s sources of revenue. For example, because of the tremendous size of Harvard’s endowment, the Harvard University could pay the full tuition of every student attending that University via their endowment – and the Harvard tuition is much higher than that of Penn State. A dramatic increase in philanthropy is required as are partnerships with business and industry that can produce dramatic financial gains through the success of accomplished alumni. The University should establish as it’s philanthropic target, the ability to pay outright the cost of education for any student from Pennsylvania admitted to the University according to the same academic standards as all other students, whose family resources are below a certain level.

84. John P. Rodgers ’93, ’97 JD, Hazleton, Pa.

As I stated prior answer it is my goal to reduce to below $10,000 per year for instate residents within five years. This can be achieved with shared sacrafice by all Penn Staters. First and foremoast Penn State should embark on a new fundrasing campaign with the sole purpose of raising money to subsidize tuition. Nationally the cost of Tuition has increased dramatically due to the fact unlike private business our Universities have been totally fiscally irresponsible. The Board of Trustees at Penn State, like that of many other Universities, has refused to make tough economic decisions.  Rather than reducing spending, the Board of Trustees has continually taken the easy way out by raising tuition. I would also propose the creation of a privatiztion task force which would be comprised of Members of the Board of Trustees, Faculy, Staff and Students. It would be the mission of the task force to identify cost savings that could be realized by privatizing University functions. The cost savings realized from this would be used to lower tuition. In conclusion, it is time that Penn State is run like a business.

85. James E. Carnicella ’73, Ocoee, Fla.

The answers to questions 2 and 3 are intertwined and will only be possible to address if the answer to #1 occurs. PSU must rid itself of the political and personal agenda’s of the Governor, a few members of the BOT, and their elitist connections. Those who believe endowments and contributions should mean personal entitlements, cronyism, and secretive deliberations and deceptive business practices must be eliminated. The taxpayers of PA and the legislature, along with the alumni must decide if our beloved University should continue to be subsidized to assure affordable higher education to our future students as during the past 150 years. The PSU President’s office has been steering the University toward a more private institution ( i.e. an Ivy League). The Governor has orchestrated the above by eliminating appropriations over the past few years and approving outrageous expenditures by the BOT. Tuition pressures could be eased by the increase in appropriations, eliminating departmental inefficiencies, eliminating cronyism and entitlements for the elitists and focusing on the basic premise of providing an affordable education for our future PSU students. Spending millions of dollars to compete globally in the fields of research and other millions for programs that put pressure on the tuition issue need to be reassesed. It would be nice to have the $6 million from severance packages paid to those fired from the football staff and the other several millions paid to victims programs, that may not have any impact except to deflect responsibility!

86. Darlene R. Baker ’80, Warminster, Pa.

This is not an easy issue to tackle and is a broader issue than Penn State. I am not sure that I am qualified to make recommendations. But to try to answer the question, steps that could be considered: working with state and federal government to assist with additional taxes credits, taking advantage of technology with out-of-the-box thinking on how to change how we educate by reducing brick and mortar overhead, and reviewing success of funding strategies such PA 529 College savings plan to determine if they are working. While there is no easy answer to this question, we need to educate our kids and it needs to be a priority.

[Next question: Land grant mission.]

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Mary Hunnewell  |  July 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Can I get a $200.000.00 refund on tuition/housing, etc.? My two children who both graduated with honors from the main campus and right now are so ashamed over Penn States inadequate response to all that has occured.
    How dare you bring down the entire school and football program. How dare you agree to the NCAA sanctions. You have absolutely no gumsion! The football players and students did nothing wrong. How can they say with pride they graduated from Penn State?
    I hope the Alumni Association has enough backbone to sue the hell out of the trustees and the NCAA for including them in this horrendous act of child abuse.

    The kids who attended Penn State either as Football Players/Students did nothing wrong! The administration did everything wrong! WHO do they think there hurting?


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