The Penn State Board of Trustees approved a salary increase for university employees on Thursday. An increase in tuition rates for students will also take effect.
A 2% general salary increase will take effect for faculty and staff for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, retroactive to July 1, for a total of $23.7 million. $3.8 million will be used for contractual increases and promotions.
Last year there were no salary increases due to the pandemic.
Trustees like Brandon Short said they were in favor of the salary increase in order to "keep the best people" at Penn State.
An 18% funding increase for insurance was approved, as well, along with a 6% health care funding increase and a 1.5% retirement funding decrease.
Penn State budget officer Mary Ortiz said insurance rates at Penn State have remained flat for a number of years.
“We are both catching up to the market as well as incorporating higher interest insurance rates that is reflected nationwide,” Ortiz said.
The board approved an increase to tuition costs as well. University Park undergraduate students from Pennsylvania will see an increase of $448 dollars for yearly tuition. Out-of-state students will see a $962 increase to their tuition bills.
Tuition was frozen the past three years.
“These rates will apply for whatever mode of instruction that we use throughout the academic year, and will not be refunded in the event that instruction occurs remotely for any part of the academic year,” Ortiz said.
Some trustees expressed concern for Penn State’s accessibility to all students with a tuition increase. Edward Brown suggested bringing more students to commonwealth campuses.
“This also is an environment, where I mentioned the last meeting, a survey of our students with 30% referenced food insecurity. So we say it's only a $240 increase [per semester]. Think of how much food $240 buys,” Brown said.
Ortiz said part of the tuition increase will help fund $10 million toward needs-based student aid.
The total budget approved for the upcoming academic year is $7.7 billion.