Annual tuition at Virginia's public colleges and universities would increase between $60 and $500 next fall under a proposal before a House of Delegates committee that is studying ways to eliminate a $103 million deficit in the state budget.
The measure, one of a number that legislators are considering to avoid the necessity of an election-year tax increase, has come under sharp attack from college presidents throughout the state.
The tuition increases, proposed by Del. Arthur R. Giesen Jr. (R-Staunton) would save the state an estimated $22.4 million.
Tuition at four-year colleges and universities would increase between $100 and $500. Community college students would pay $60 more per year - $20 more per quarter for three quarters.
At the University of Virginia, which draws 40 per cent of its student from Northern Virginia, tuition would rise by $200 to $934.
Tuition for Virginia residents attending George Mason University would go to $480, an increase of $100, and for out-of-state residents to $994, an increase of $200.
Supporters of Giesen's proposal say higher tuition charges are needed to meet rising education costs. Opponents say college tuition in the state already is too high.
Some legislators, such as Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr. (R-Fairfax), a senior member of the House Committee on Appropriations that is studying the proposal, think that tuition for out-of-state students ought to be raised. But Callahan said that it may be too late in the legislative session for the committee to act on the measure at all.
Other legislators said tuition increases should be left up to the governing bodies of the universities and colleges. "We can't sit here in Richmond and establish what tuitions should be throughout the state," said Sen. James H. Michael Jr. (D-Charlottesville).
Daniel E. Marvin Jr., director of the State Council of Higher Education, said Virginia's public college tuition, except for tuition charged at community colleges, is the highest of 14 Southern states.
Last fall, the state's college tuition ranked fifth highest in the nation, according to an official of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
Dr. Vergil H. Dykstra, president of George Mason University, said approval of the tuition increase proposal would represent "a very sad change in public policy" in that higher education would become "a privilege of the wealthy instead of the responsibility of society."
"Students can't afford it (tuition increases)," said Dr. Harrison B. Wilson Jr., president of Norfolk State College.
Dr. T. Edward Temple, president of Virginia Commonwealth University, said, "We are opposed to any tuition increase unless it has to be done to provide salaries for faculty."
There is no provision in the current budget to increase college salaries. State officials estimate it would cost $10.8 million to prove a 4.8 per cent increase in college salaries throughout the state this year.
Already, a projected $2.5 million cut in the state's aid to education is expected to cause some colleges and universities to lay off a total of 593 staff and faculty members for varying periods, according to state officials.
Raising tuition is one of the most difficult solutions proposed for this year's budgetary problems, according to Del. Dorothy S. McDiarmid (D-Fairfax), who said she would be reluctant to raise tuitions. "I hope we won't have to do it," she declared. "But somehow it (the deficit) has got to be made up."
Under Giesen's proposal, overall tuition would rise by $100 at Clinch Valley College, the College of William and Mary and Virginia Military Institute.
In-state tuition would increase by $100 at Christopher Newport, Longwood, Madison, Mary Washington, Virginia State (VSC) and Radford colleges and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Old Dominion University (ODU).
At Norfolk State College (NSC) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI), in-state tuition would increase by $200 and $250, respectively.
Out-of-state tuition would increase by $200 at Longwood Mary Washington and Radford Colleges and VCU and VSC, by $300 at Christopher Newport College, by $400 at Madison College and NSC, and by $500 at ODU and VPI.