May 25, 2023 - Education

Virginia colleges are raising tuitions again

Illustration of a hundred dollar bill wrapped up like a college diploma

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Students at most of Virginia's public universities will be paying more for college come the fall semester.

What's happening: Tuition increases of at least 3% have been approved by the boards at nearly every public university in Virginia for the 2023-24 school year after four years of no or small increases due to the pandemic, per the Times-Dispatch.

  • University leaders argue that inflation, low or no tuition increases since the pandemic and the proposed 7% pay raises for state workers leave them little choice beyond tuition increases if they want to maintain the same quality of education.

Why it matters: Enrollment in college — long touted as the great socioeconomic equalizer — has been on the decline in recent years, largely due to the high cost of a four-year-degree and concerns over student debt, Axios' Erin Doherty reported last year.

Zoom in: For the 2010-2011 school year, the average tuition cost for a full-time, in-state undergrad student in Virginia was $8,830, according to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

  • Room and board was an average of $8,003 for a total first-year, on-campus cost of $16,833.
  • Last school year, it was $14,504 for tuition and $11,981 for room and board for a total of $26,484.

Worth noting: The legislature worked in recent years to head off any tuition increases, in part by directing additional funds to schools that agreed to tuition freezes.

Gov. Youngkin continued the tradition in part: He convinced schools to keep tuition flat, but did not offer any additional state funds.

At least one school has indicated that its increase is set regardless of whether state officials push for freezes. VMI wrote in a news release that the governor asked for its tuition increase to be kept at 3% or lower.

In either case, the state's budget has been delayed for months and won't be approved until at least June due to national debt ceiling negotiations and state lawmaker infighting.

Yes, but: Even if the governor intervenes on tuition increases, most universities also approved rate hikes for mandatory fees plus room and board increases, which will likely stay in place.

  • In addition to a 3% tuition increase, VCU approved a 6% increase in student fees and a 9% increase in room and board.
  • At Tech, in addition to a 4.9% tuition increase, fees are set to jump by $208 and room and board by $990 a year.

By the numbers: Mary Washington and VSU were the only two public universities in Virginia not to pass increases for undergraduate, in-state tuition for the 2023-23 semester. The rest:


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