Board committee recommends approval of 2020-21 room and board rates

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s benchmark room and board rate for the 2020-21 academic year — based on a standard double room and the most common meal plan — would increase by $200 per semester, or 3.52%, over 2019-20 rates, under a plan approved today (Feb. 20) by the Penn State Board of Trustees Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning. 

The rates are subject to the final approval of the full board, which will vote on the proposal at its meeting on Feb. 21. 

If approved, the cost of a standard double room, which makes up the largest percentage of the University’s room inventory, would increase by $150 per semester to $3,427, and the cost of the mid-level meal plan, the most popular option, would rise by $50 per semester to $2,449, bringing the total semester room and board rate to $5,876 for the 2020-21 academic year. 

The proposed rate increases are necessary to meet rising operating and facility maintenance expenses for the coming fiscal year, said John Papazoglou, Penn State associate vice president for Auxiliary and Business Services. The new rates will cover projected cost increases related to food procurement, payroll, utilities, facility upkeep and renewal, and the operation of the Residence Life program. 

“Providing Penn State students with a quality and reasonably priced living and dining experience is our highest priority,” said Papazoglou. “We are committed to the University-wide goal of minimizing student expenses, and to holding room and board rate increases to only the amount necessary to meet our own rising costs.”

Penn State Housing and Food Services is a self-supporting enterprise, and money paid by students and guests for food and lodging are the only funds available to pay for operating expenses, building loans, and interest payments, as well as costs for major maintenance and facility renewal. No state funds or tuition dollars are used for construction, maintenance of facilities, or the operations of the housing and dining programs. 

Housing and Food Services enters the eighth year of its residential capital renewal plan in 2020-21. The plan includes renovations to all residence halls in the East and Pollock housing areas at University Park. Papazoglou said that Geary and Sproul halls are expected to re-open for the fall 2020 semester, completing renovations to 68% of the total bed spaces in East Halls, with Bigler, Curtin and Packer halls scheduled to go offline for renovations during the coming academic year. 

Penn State Housing and Food Services operates at 11 campuses across the state, serving students at the University’s Abington, Altoona, Beaver, Behrend, Berks, Brandywine, Greater Allegheny, Harrisburg, Hazleton, Mont Alto, and University Park campuses. Housing rates specific to each campus and various living units can be found online at https://hfs.psu.edu/rates. All rates for 2020-21 will be published soon after the board’s vote on Feb. 21.Graduate apartment lease rates for the 2020-21 academic year were previously approved by the board at its September 2019 meeting.