Tuition at publicly owned or aided schools in Pennsylvania - including Penn State and Temple Universities - will increase only about 4 percent. School officials attribute the relatively low increase to an incentive program initiated by Gov. Casey and approved by the General Assembly.
In the national survey, the New York-based College Board found that community college students will pay an average of 5 percent more than they did last year.
Those at four-year public colleges will see tuition increase by 7 percent, while students at four-year private schools will be charged 9 percent more for tuition.
For the community colleges and public schools, the increases are close to the nation's 5.2 percent inflation rate for the year that ended in June, as measured by the consumer price index - a trend noted by higher education officials who have been criticized for rapidly escalating tuition during much of the 1980s.
"Relative to the CPI, this represents a bit of price moderation," said David Merkowitz, spokesman for the American Council of Education in Washington.
Donald M. Stewart, president of the College Board, a nonprofit educational association, said the latest survey indicated that "a college education continues to be within reach of virtually every qualified student."
He said student financial aid - including grants, loans and work-study
funds - had reached an all-time high of $26 billion. Almost half of the country's 12.8 million college students get some form of financial aid, he said.
For community colleges, average tuition in the 1989-90 academic year will be $842; for four-year public colleges, $1,694, and for four-year private colleges, $8,737, the board reported.
The average student can expect to pay between $3,039 and $3,898 in the coming year for on-campus housing, according to the survey.
At some of the most selective private schools, however, tuition will top $15,000, with total prices - including tuition, room and board - ballooning to more than $21,000. Among the schools in that price range are Bennington
College, Harvard University and Sarah Lawrence College.
In the Philadelphia area, the most expensive schools include Swarthmore
College, where total charges will be $19,300; the University of Pennsylvania, $18,925, and Bryn Mawr College, $18,600.
Officials at all three schools attributed the hikes to sharply increased costs for computer technology, library books and journals, faculty salaries, health benefits, building renovation, and other items.
They also said the tuition increase was needed to help cover the cost of stepped-up student financial aid to make up for reductions in federally funded grants to needy students.
At Swarthmore, school officials said they were increasing their own contribution to student financial aid by 10.9 percent, in part to allow the most needy students to attend college without having to borrow.
"For a number of years, we have had an explicit policy of attemping to increase grants to students from families which earn less than $30,000 a year so they don't have to take out any loans," said James England, provost of Swarthmore.
At Rutgers, school officials attributed the double-digit tuition hike to New Jersey's fiscal crisis, which sharply reduced state appropriations to the university. Nearly $8.5 million has been pared from the school's budget for the fiscal year that began on July 1.
The reductions include a hiring freeze, cuts in the number of class
sections to be offered in the coming year and administrative cuts.
"The university has simply not received the state appropriation it hoped to get," said Amy C. Melvin, Rutgers spokeswoman.
The Rutgers' tuition hike, which was announced last spring, set off student demonstrations and charges that the university was neglecting its undergraduate programs in its bid to become a major research institution.
At St. Joseph's, school officials said the 16.2 percent tuition hike - the largest among major Philadelphia-area schools - was spurred by the need to renovate older classroom buildings, as well as recognition that the university was charging less than its peer institutions.
"There was a general consensus among our board that St. Joe's was under- priced relative to our direct competition in Philadelphia and to some of the other Jesuit schools elsewhere in the country," said Joseph M. Lunardi, a spokesman for the school.
He said the university, in previous years, may have been charging "Chevy prices for a BMW degree."
Stephen Palacios, 21, student body president at St. Joseph's, said the increase, which was announced last spring, was unpopular with students. "It comes on top of increases of 9.5 percent in each of the two previous years," he said.
But Palacios said there was "no question" the additional money was necessary. He said new buildings and programs funded with the increased tuition revenue had greatly improved the school's overall quality.
To help offset the impact of the tuition rise on students' pocketbooks, St. Joeseph's officials have devised a rebate program that will give between $250 and $450 back to each upperclassman.
Freshmen will not receive a rebate, but they have applied to St. Joseph's in record numbers, nonetheless, according to school officials. There were 2,637 applications for 752 openings, an all-time high.
"St. Joe's is going through one of those periods when we are kind of a hot school," said Lunardi.