The Pennsylvania College of Technology Board on Thursday unanimously voted to approve a $139.79 million budget for the upcoming school year. It includes a 5.54 percent hike in tuition for state residents.
"I think you're all aware it was a difficult process this year," Suzanne T. Stopper, vice president of finance and chief financial officer, said to the board.
The tuition increase will add about $780 to the bill of a typical state student attending Penn College for two 15-credit semesters. This past year's rate was $13,590. In-state students will pay an additional $26 per a credit.
Out-of-state students will have their tuition rise 5.82 percent -an additional $990.
Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, college president, estimated the tuition increase, on average, would be $63 a month for students, equal to a cellphone bill. She went on to say that it is the price students need to pay for the education they receive.
"The quality of education students receive at Pennsylvania College of Technology ... is second to none," Gilmour said.
She also said in a time where "you get what you pay for," students are making a "sound investment" in their future by enrolling in the school.
After the meeting, Gilmour said she doesn't expect the tuition hike to affect enrollment as students understand they will receive a job upon graduation. The school has a 95-percent job placement success rate.
"I think the students here understand the importance of education," she said.
Along with the rise in tuition, Stopper said the budget included 19 position eliminations, which totaled 59 fewer staff members, as some retirements were not replaced. The past two years Penn College eliminated 91.5 full-time and 32 part-time positions.
Stopper said it was a "very difficult decision, but a decision we had to make."
"We're not alone with that," Stopper said of eliminating staff.
Gilmour said the college was thinking of the future when cuts were made.
"Our staffing restructuring was not a short-term decision," she said.
Too often, Gilmour said, institutions think eliminations are short-term, but the college made sure there was a plan in place for staffing needs long-term. She said they looked at how they could avoid affecting academics when making the decision.
The two decisions were not easy tasks, Gilmour said.
"(These were) some of the hardest decisions I've made as president because you're affecting people's livelihoods," she said.
The college was able to avoid increased debt. Stopper said it refinanced its 2002 series bond, keeping payments at about $9 million a year, instead of $10 million.
Costs that affected the budget were increases to health insurance and retirement.
Gilmour also said although the school could have done more if given increased funding by the state, it was "grateful" that it didn't lose any funding.