There’s a preliminary proposal floating around the University of Virginia that recommends the elite public flagship push for more independence from the state government. One of the reasons such change is needed, according to the draft: “Significant, sustained, and permanent decreases in federal and state funding.”
Just how much money does U-Va. receive from that state? Depends on how you look at the numbers. Here’s a primer:
What proportion of the U-Va. budget comes from the state?
For years, the university saw its funding from the state steadily decrease. That changed during fiscal 2013, when appropriations increased about $8 million, according to the university’s Financing the University 101 Web site.
There are two ways to look at the university’s finances: as a portion of the overall university budget, which includes the medical center and the U-Va. College at Wise, or just the academic division, which excludes the medical center and Wise.
For all university divisions, state appropriations accounted for $154.4 million of a $2.6 billion budget, or 5.8 percent. For the academic division, state appropriations were $139.5 million of a $1.36 billion budget, or 10.2 percent.
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) looks at it in a different way, comparing the state’s contribution to the cost of an in-state student’s education, excluding room and board, dining services and other auxiliary services. For the 2013-2014 school year, SCHEV pegged the in-state undergraduate tuition rate at $10,460. It calculated the true cost of a U-Va. education to be $19,832, meaning that students cover 53 percent of that weighted cost while the state covers 47 percent, said SCHEV director Peter A. Blake. The state is aiming to have that proportion closer to two-thirds paid by the state and one-third paid by the student.
“What UVA sometimes says is that the state provides only a small percentage of its total budget,” Blake said in an e-mail Wednesday. “That is true, if you count the hospital, auxiliary enterprises, and research expenditures. All of those functions are self-supporting and receive no general fund support.”
How has state funding changed over the years?
Over the long-term, U-Va. and nearly every other public university in the country has seen state funding make up less and less of the overall budget. But in the short-term, U-Va. has seen steadier and sometimes increased amounts of funding under Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), although not enough to catch up to where it once was.
In comparing appropriations year to year, universities will often look at the amount of state funding it gets per student and adjust those amounts for inflation. At U-Va. the amount of funding for each full-time, in-state student went from $17,132 in fiscal 1990 (remember, that’s adjusted for inflation) to $8,346 in fiscal 2013, according to a four-year financial plan draft. That’s a 51 percent drop.
In looking at just the “educational and general” appropriation from the state, the university received $119.3 million in fiscal 1990 and $114.7 million in fiscal 2012, according to the financial plan draft.
Back in 1992-1993, 14 percent of the state general fund went to higher education. In 2009-2010, that percentage had fallen to 11 percent, according to SCHEV.
To make up the difference and keep with escalating costs, U-Va. has turned to philanthropy, research funding, enrollment growth, new degree and non-degree programs, and tuition increases.
How does Virginia compare to other states?
If you look at a ranking of the total number of dollars that each state spends on higher education, Virginia is No. 11 in the country for fiscal 2013 with $1.7 billion, according to the Center for the Student of Education and Policy at Illinois State University. Ahead of Virginia, in order: California at No. 1, Texas, New York, North Carolina, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. (That ranking was nearly the same the previous year.)
Obviously, each state has varying numbers of colleges and students, so those totals don’t mean as much at the school level.
U-Va. officials looked at how its per-student state funding compared to that of a handful of other state flagships. For fiscal 2012, they report these numbers: University of North Carolina at $22,105. University of Maryland at $17,494. University of Michigan at $13,024. U-Va. at $8,346.