Millersville University campus

Millersville University campus.

Tuition at Millersville University and its 13 sister universities won't increase for the second year in a row as colleges statewide look to ease the burden on students during the economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's board of trustees approved the tuition freeze at its meeting Wednesday. The move will keep basic in-state tuition at $7,716. 

Other Pennsylvania universities, such as Penn State and Temple, have agreed not to increase tuition next year. 

This is the first time the state system, which is projected to lose up to $100 million this spring semester due to the health crisis and continues to struggle with declining enrollment, has frozen in-state tuition in consecutive years for the first time in its 38-year history.

Before 2018, the state system's last tuition freeze was for the 1998-99 school year. 

"Pennsylvania will recover from this pandemic, and our outstanding universities will have a role in leading the recovery," state system Chancellor Dan Greenstein said in a statement. "To be a leader will take courage, and the board showed that kind of courage today by choosing to be on the side of students and affordability."

At Millersville, which charges per credit, the freeze means tuition will remain at $9,570 for a full-time undergraduate student from Pennsylvania taking 15 credits per semester. 

Full-time, in-state freshmen and sophomores at Penn State pay $17,416 annually. Yearly rates vary from $18,828 to $22,484 for upperclassmen. 

At Temple, which has announced plans to freeze tuition with an official vote expected May 12, in-state tuition is $16,080 per year. 

"Our students are facing many challenges and we need to do everything possible to help them and their families," Millersville President Daniel Wubah said. "Making our high-quality education affordable and accessible to qualified students is critical and integral to our core values."

Universities across Pennsylvania — and the nation — have shifted to remote instruction for the remainder of the spring semester. As a result, the state system is facing a $70 million to $100 million hole mainly due to student refunds. 

In turn, Greenstein directed state-owned universities to limit the number of adjunct faculty, leave vacant staff or faculty positions that are considered nonessential unfilled. 

The universities have, in addition, placed more than 700 employees on unpaid leave due to campus closures. 

On Wednesday, the board of governors also agreed to extend a retirement incentive program created earlier this year to make about 460 more employees eligible. 

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