U-Va.’s in-state price could rise 4.3 percent


Students are seen at the collonnade at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. (Steve Helber/AP)

Undergraduate tuition and fees at the University of Virginia would rise 4.3 percent for Virginians in the coming year under a proposal the governing board will consider next week.

The basic in-state price of the public flagship university, not counting room and board, would be $12,998 if the Board of Visitors approves the increase at its meeting Wednesday in the southwest Virginia town of Abingdon. The current price is $12,458.

Board member Edward D. Miller said it was hard to justify the rate increase at a time when the national inflation rate is about 1.5 percent. Miller said he plans to oppose the proposal, and board member Helen E. Dragas expressed reservations about it.

Miller acknowledged that it is likely to pass.

“At a certain point, you’ve got to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ ” Miller said. “We continue to pile debt on students.” Miller said that U-Va. and other universities must contain costs: “Higher education needs to get a grip on this.”

Tuition at the Charlottesville school has been closely watched in recent years as its leaders have wrestled with the sometimes-conflicting goals of maintaining the widest possible access for state residents and competing with the nation’s elite private colleges and universities.

The rate of increase for the in-state price would be nearly the same as it was this past fall. The price does not include scholarships or grants awarded for financial need, an issue that has drawn attention since the board voted last year to scale back a grant program for needy students and require some to take out loans. Private philanthropy is helping to offset that cutback this year.

“The University of Virginia remains committed to providing affordable access to one of the nation’s premier public research institutions,” the school’s president, Teresa A. Sullivan, said in a statement Thursday.

Out-of-state students would face a 5.9 percent increase in tuition and fees, raising their total cost to $42,184.

Across the country, the cost of attending a public university shot up after the 2008 financial crisis as states reduced their support for higher education. But a College Board report in the fall found that the spike was receding. After adjusting for inflation, the average amount for in-state tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities rose less than 1 percent between 2012-13 and the current school year, the survey found, to $8,893. That increase was the lowest since 2008-09.

In-state tuition for most schools in the University System of Maryland would rise 3 percent in the coming year under a recommendation Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan plans to make next month to the Board of Regents. That, too, is in line with previous increases.

Counting fees, the expected in-state price increase would be about 2.9 percent for a full-time undergraduate at College Park. Currently, tuition and fees are $9,161. A precise figure for the next school year was unavailable.

Kirwan said that state funding kept the price increase low. “We were quite satisfied with the final General Assembly-approved budget,” he said.

At St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a public liberal arts school outside the state system, the price for Maryland residents will be cut 7 percent in the next school year, thanks to a state subsidy. In-state tuition and fees will be $13,824, a spokeswoman said, down from the current $14,865.

St. Mary’s, which in recent years has faced recruiting troubles, is a well-regarded college on the Southern Maryland waterfront with small class sizes and higher tuition than U-Md. and other state universities.

The legislature’s support of a price cut, through a funding increase, could be intended to help St. Mary’s draw more students.

“The legislature’s decision affirms the college’s dual mandates: the promise of public education, accessible to all, combined with high standards of academic excellence,” Gail Harmon, the leader of the college’s governing board, said in a statement. “This is wonderful news for our students and their families.”

Many public colleges in Virginia, including George Mason University and James Madison University, have not announced prices for the coming year.

Tuition at the College of William and Mary for incoming freshmen from Virginia will be frozen at $12,428 for four years. The college’s board has not yet set fees.

Longwood University, in Farmville, Va., announced what it says is the lowest increase for any Virginia public university in more than a decade.

Longwood, 175 years old, is the state’s third-oldest public university after William and Mary and U-Va. Its tuition and fees for Virginia residents will be $11,580, up 2.1 percent from this current school year.

“We’re just really intent on finding a way to keep costs for families under control,” said Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV.

“On a philosophical level, college is what makes the American dream possible. The simple fact is, it can’t keep becoming more expensive, or it’s not going to be affordable for the broad middle class.”

A former Post education editor, Nick writes about college from the perspective of a father of three who will soon be buried in tuition bills.
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