Get ready. The cost of a college education in Pennsylvania might be on the way up.
After 18 months of negotiations that included the threat of the system’s first-ever strike, unionized faculty at the 14 state-owned universities are hoping that on Wednesday the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education board ratifies its four-year contract proposal.
The most controversial element of the contract has been the need to raise salaries without causing significant tuition hikes, said state system spokesman Kenn Marshall.
The deal calls for salary increases of 11.5 percent for senior faculty and 19 percent for junior faculty over the four years of the contract, with junior faculty members getting the higher increases. Faculty members now receive salaries ranging between $44,795 and $107,870 a year.
Three of Pennsylvania’s 14 state universities are projecting enrollment declines.
Mansfield is expecting 5 to 6 percent fewer students than last year. Part of the decline is due to high paying jobs in the gas industry. Mansfield is in the heart of the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom.
Clarion is expecting a decrease of about 5 percent.
Edinboro is projecting a few hundred less students this fall.
Indiana Univ. of PA is expecting an increase over last year’s record-setting enrollment.
Students can expect to pay about 9 percent more than last year to attend one of Pennsylvania’s 14 state universities. An overall enrollment increase for the entire higher education system is expected, despite the three schools who are projecting lower enrollment.