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July 10, 2014

Pitt again has highest tuition among publics

Pitt and Penn State once again had the highest tuition among the nation’s public four-year-or-above institutions for in-state students.

An annual ranking by the U.S. Department of Education put the University’s Pittsburgh campus at the top of the list with tuition of $16,590 for in-state students in 2012-13, followed by Penn State’s main campus at $16,444. The national average tuition for public four-year-or-above institutions was $7,407.

In-state tuition averaged $12,890 at Pitt-Bradford and Pitt-Greensburg in 2012-13, and $12,892 at Pitt-Johnstown.

Of the 34 public four-year institutions that made up the top 5 percent in tuition costs, half were state-related Pennsylvania campuses: Pitt, Penn State and Temple, which ranked No. 19 at $13,596, as well as 13 Penn State branch campuses and Penn State’s affiliated Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Pitt-Titusville had the highest tuition among public two-year schools. Its in-state rate of $11,324 was nearly four times the national average of $3,023 for the sector and far surpassed second-place Marion Military Institute in Alabama ($8,570).

Net price comparisons

Pitt’s average net price — the total cost of attendance (tuition, fees, books and supplies, room and board and other expenses) minus the average amount of grant and scholarship aid — also was among the highest for four-year public institutions.

Net prices for public four-year institutions averaged $11,582 in 2011-12, the most recent comparison published by the education department’s College Affordability and Transparency Center.

The Pittsburgh campus ranked No. 4, with a net price of $21,641. Miami University-Oxford in Ohio had the highest net price, $24,674, followed by Penn State’s main campus, $22,560, and Colorado School of Mines, $21,980.

The average net price for Pitt’s four-year regional campuses was $15,350 at Pitt-Bradford, $14,594 at Pitt-Greensburg and $16,779 at Pitt-Johnstown.

Pitt-Titusville’s average net price in 2011-12 was $15,015, placing UPT at No. 18 among public two-year schools. Mojave Community College in Arizona had the highest net price in the sector, $19,591; the national average for public two-year schools was $7,163.

Rising tuition

For four-year public institutions, tuition and fees rose an average of 13 percent between 2010-11 and 2012-13. At public two-year schools, the increase was 18.7 percent.

The federal data showed an 11.07 percent increase on the Pittsburgh campus, with single-digit hikes on Pitt’s regional campuses: 7.01 percent at Pitt-Bradford; 5.86 percent at Pitt-Greensburg; 6.74 percent at Pitt-Johnstown, and 5.61 percent at Pitt-Titusville.


Ken Service, vice chancellor for communications, told the University Times that the Department of Education’s affordability and transparency list does not take into account the relationship of state funding to tuition levels and the value of the education provided.

“The fact that Pitt’s main campus and most of Penn State’s campuses and Temple are at or near the top of the federal list is directly related to the fact that Pennsylvania continues to provide substantially less support for public higher education than other states — passing more of the cost on to students and their families,” he said.

“Pennsylvania ranks 47th among the 50 states in terms of higher education support per capita, according to the most recent survey conducted by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. Current state funding has taken Pitt back to the levels of state support received in 1995, unadjusted for inflation.  With adjustments for inflation, Pitt now receives lower levels of support than at any time since it was made a public university in the mid-1960s.”

Service added: “Despite declining state support, Pitt continues to provide a high-quality education to our students in return for their tuition investments,” noting that Pitt not only was the only Pennsylvania public institution to make The Princeton Review’s annual “Best Colleges” list, but that it also was among the publication’s 150 “Best Value Colleges” based on assessments of academics, cost and financial aid. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, for the ninth time, also ranked Pitt as the top value among public colleges and universities in Pennsylvania in its annual ranking of four-year schools that combine outstanding education with economic value, Service noted.


Under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, the U.S. Department of Education posts updated information on tuition and net price by July 1 on its College Affordability and Transparency Center site at

Based on Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data, the most recent annual report lists institutions, by sector, in the highest and lowest 5 percent in tuition and required fees for 2012-13, and the highest and lowest in net price for 2011-12, as well as the institutions with the highest increases in those categories.

— Kimberly K. Barlow