Virginia’s public college students will see their tuition rates increase by the smallest amount in a decade in the upcoming academic year, partly due to state funding increases championed by Gov. Bob McDonnell.
McDonnell held a news conference today at Virginia Commonwealth University to promote the fact that tuition rates at Virginia’s public colleges will increase by an average of 4.1 percent this year, a significant drop from last year’s average increase of 7.9 percent. McDonnell, who has made higher education reform a high priority, called the tuition restraint “a remarkable achievement” after a decade in which tuition increased by 91 percent.
“I am incredibly pleased to see that when Virginia students go back to school this fall, they will encounter the lowest yearly tuition increases in a decade,” McDonnell said in a statement. “We ran on a commitment to making college more affordable and accessible for Virginia students. Now, we are turning that policy proposal into tangible results for Virginia parents and students.”
The General Assembly earlier this year passed a new two-year budget that includes $230 million in additional funding for higher education. McDonnell pushed for the additional finding and also urged the governing boards of the state’s public colleges earlier this year to limit tuition increases to the rate of inflation.
“Why did we do that? Because tuitions were through the roof in Virginia,” said McDonnell, who had college students dressed in their school colors providing a backdrop.
Virginia Tech’s board of visitors voted in May to boost tuition and mandatory fees for in-state undergraduates by 3.9 percent. Radford University’s board approved a 3.2 percent increase.
But McDonnell and House Majority Leader Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, acknowledged that the state will have to make a sustained commitment to funding its public colleges to ease pressure on tuition rates.
“The challenge for us is to keep the momentum up,” said Cox, a senior member of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee.
– Michael Sluss