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U-Va. will raise tuition 11 percent next fall, one of highest increases in the nation

The campus of the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, Va., on Friday March 20, 2015. (Photo by J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)
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The home-state price of entry at the University of Virginia will rise 11 percent next fall — one of the highest college tuition-and-fee increases in the nation — under a plan approved Tuesday that also aims to slash the debt burden for students in need.

The university’s governing Board of Visitors voted overwhelmingly for a plan that was kept under wraps until its members met in afternoon session in Charlottesville.

The action means that annual tuition and fees for Virginians who enter their public flagship university as freshmen in the next school year will total $14,468, up from the current charge of $12,998. That doesn’t include room and board.

For current undergraduate students, however, the increase will be lower: 3.6 percent. That is more in line with other increases at U-Va. in recent years.

John Griffin, a board member who spearheaded the plan, said it will help U-Va. raise funds to set new caps on the amount of money it expects students in need to borrow over four years.

Previously, certain Virginia students from low-income families were expected to borrow up to $14,000 to finance their education. Now that total will be lowered to $4,000. Other students from middle-income families, who had a debt ceiling of $28,000, will now have a cap of $18,000.

Greg Lewis, 21, a senior at the university active in a group called U-Va. Students United, said the group had heard from two members of the governing board that there were behind-the-scenes discussions about a large tuition increase, and he had heard it could have been as high as 13 percent.

Lewis said he had heard the plan was to raise revenue for financial aid and other purposes — a model some describe as “high tuition/high aid.” Lewis, who is from Chesapeake, Va., said he is skeptical. “I’m really concerned about the corporatization and privatization of higher education,” he said.

In 2013, the College of William and Mary approved a new pricing policy that lifted tuition and fees 14 percent for entering Virginia students. At the same time, William and Mary guaranteed that the entering students would face no further tuition increases for the duration of their four years of study. William and Mary officials described their plan as a way to make the the public college in Williamsburg more affordable for many middle-income Virginia families.

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