Virginia’s Largest Universities Raise Tuition

By Dayne Kaufman
VCU Capital News Service

Virginia’s five largest state universities – Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason, Old Dominion, Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia – have raised tuition by 5 to 7 percent for the coming school year.

The tuition increases will help offset a decrease in state support for higher education. The state budget cuts funding for four-year institutions by 15 percent and for two-year institutions by 10 percent – a total reduction of about $212 million.

“The boards of visitors at Virginia’s colleges and universities may have kept student needs in mind when setting tuition this year, and certainly everyone is aware that these are difficult economic times,” said Kathleen Kincheloe, assistant director of communications at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

State schools will receive about $126 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, part of the federal economic stimulus package. As a result, the schools are left with a net budget cut of $86 million. The tuition increase will help make up that difference.

Besides raising tuition, the schools have eliminated a planned 2 percent salary increase for faculty, saving $37 million.

While students will face higher tuition, they also will enjoy additional financial aid.

SCHEV said Virginia’s public colleges and universities will offer an additional $10 million in financial aid for the coming school year. This 8.5 percent increase brings the total to $128 million.

“I’m not happy about (the tuition increase), but I understand why VCU needed to raise it,” said Shannon Cruse, a junior at VCU. “I hope I’ll get to see some of that extra financial aid money this fall.”

VCU, the state’s largest four-year institution with about 32,000 students, lost the most money in budget cuts – $30.4 million.

Last month, the VCU Board of Visitors voted to raise annual tuition and mandatory fees for:

  • In-state undergraduate students by 5 percent, to $7,117
  • Out-of-state undergraduate students by 5 percent, to $20,749
  • In-state master’s students by 6 percent, to $10,014
  • Out-of-state master’s students by 5 percent, to $19,177
  • In-state doctoral students by less than 1 percent, to $9,122
  • Out-of-state doctoral students by 2 percent, to $18,210

Despite the increases, VCU maintains its status as the least expensive institution in Virginia offering bachelor’s through doctoral degrees. In-state undergraduate students next year will pay $9,700 at the University of Virginia and $8,600 at Virginia Tech.

“These are difficult economic times for our students and their families, as well as for the entire university. We worked very hard to keep cost increases at a minimum,” said VCU President Eugene P. Trani.

“Funding from the federal stimulus package was key in helping VCU mitigate tuition increases while still providing the foundation of what our students need to be successful in their academic careers.”

Tuition isn’t the only expense on the rise. The average annual cost of housing and meal plans at VCU is increasing by 6 percent, to $6,579.

SCHEV will release a full report on Aug. 1 when the agency is scheduled to send it to Gov. Tim Kaine and the General Assembly.

Approximate tuition and fees
for in-state undergraduate students, 2009-10

Institution
Tuition / fees
Increase
VCU
$7,100
5%
GMU
$8,000
7%
VT
$8,600
5%
UVA
$9,700
5%
ODU
$7,300
6%

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