Pitt, Penn State Top List For Highest Tuition Rates

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — We love our bragging rights in Pittsburgh, but this time around the University of Pittsburgh would probably rather pass on the spotlight.

The U.S. Department of Education says Pitt has the second-highest tuition rate in the country among “Public, 4-year or above” institutions of higher learning.

Pitt would be No. 1, but Penn State grabbed that spot with an annual tuition rate of $14,416. Pitt’s tuition is just $262 lower at $14,154. Penn State’s branch campuses take up 19 of the other spots in the top 30 most-expensive tuition in the country. When you add in room, board and other costs of a year in college, Penn State drops to sixth and Pitt to ninth in the country.

Pitt sent KDKA a statement late today blaming the dubious listing on “the Commonwealth’s de-emphasis on higher-education funding during the past decade.”

The statement goes on to point out that the University has twice this year been named a “Best Value” school – a point underscored by student Ben Dichter of Philadelphia.

“I always thought Pitt was a pretty good bang for your buck school,” she said. “I feel like I’m getting a really good education for the price I’m paying. I feel that Pitt stacks up against a lot of private universities in terms of the quality of education.”

It’s important to point out that the numbers used to create the list are fall 2009 to spring 2010 figures.

They don’t reflect any increases that went into effect this past year, or the looming increases due to the 19 percent cut in subsidies to the universities which the legislature passed this week.

More Reports By John Shumway
U.S. Dept. Education: College Affordability & Transparency Center

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  • critter


  • swin

    When the government stepped in with student loans and subsidies to colleges and universities, the tuition rates began to go up. Does anybody see a connection here? Just like when government started subsidizing health care through medicare and medicaid the result was an increase in health costs.

    Government steps in and causes a distortion in the marketplace – short and simple. Now that government is broke and all these subsidies are coming to an end, there will have to be an adjustment back to free market forces. These colleges will no longer afford outrageous building programs, mansions for their directors, and million dollar salaries for their chancellors. The students will be in a bind for awhile as these adjustments are made, but eventually tuition will have to come back in line with what the customer is able to pay, just like any other product on the market. High tuition rates are the result of government subsidies to education and not a result of the withdrawal of these subsidies.

  • swin

    Just as an example – I graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1970. IUP was just completing its transition from a state owned little teacher training college to a full university.PITT had become state-related in 1967. NDEA loans and Pennsylvania PHEAA loans and grants were just getting started. Government was entering the education business and distorting the marketplace. Colleges and universities now realized that their tuition did not have to be based on what the students could afford but what the government was willing to pay.

    The result? Pitt now owns most of Oakland and their original campus buildings on the hillside above O’hara Street are all but abandoned.

    And as for IUP – well let’s just say that back in those days my full cost of attending for one year was around $1100. That’s right – you read that correctly.
    $1100 and that included room, board, tuition, books, and recreation money.

    Now that the government is broke and these subsidies are coming to an end, these market distortions will come to an end. No more brand new half-empty buildings at Pitt (Forbes Quadrangle for example), chancellors making salaries equivalent to the CEO of Microsoft, and who knows, maybe no more million dollar salaries for football coaches.

    And to the students, I would recommend that good old free market tested solution. A boycott. All of you, each and every one of you, withdraw from the University of Pittsburgh at one time. Believe me, tuition will fall faster than a rock.

    • jnovicki

      Um, swin, its easy to make an argument when you make up facts/information.

      For example, the campus buildings on upper campus are to capacity. The “new” Forbes Quad (as you call it, is now Posvar Hall, and has been for 10 years and has existed for 35 years) is busting at the seams. Basically every “new” building (my definition, within the past 10 years) that has been built is at capacity, because enrollment is much greater than when you went to school in the 1960s.

      I’m not arguing that costs cannot be controlled, but the state does not fund nearly what it did in the past (or even compared to what other states fund their public universities). Last I heard, Pitt (and indirectly Penn State) receive on the order of less than 10% of their funding from the commonwealth, where this is unheard of for public universities anywhere else in the US.

      So, to prove your point, you say withdraw. Um, where do you suggest these individuals that wish to gain an education go? To a private university, where tuition is multiple times what it is at Pitt or Penn State? To a state-school, which just implemented their own 7.5% increase and is facing the same problem as the state-relateds? Tuition won’t fall. If anything, it would probably increase (you know, that little thing called supply and demand?) Tuition is a tight-rope, and education overall needs overhauled, but your recommendations are outrageous. I hope you aren’t and never run the education of the state.

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