RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Governor Glenn Youngkin’s pressure campaign to keep college tuition flat appears to be paying off.
On Friday afternoon, the University of Virginia became the latest school to respond. UVA’s Board of Visitors approved a one-time $690 credit to in-state undergraduate students for the 2022-2023 academic year. The credit is equivalent to the 4.7% increase in tuition that was adopted in 2021 for this academic year, according to a press release. The decision also impacts the University of Virginia College Wise.
“Over the past several months, we have done careful work to evaluate the governor’s request and several other key factors that made it easier to proceed with this credit, while maintaining our University’s strong financial position,” Whittington Clement, the rector of the University Board of Visitors, said in a statement.
Governor Youngkin was quick to praise UVA.
“I have encouraged colleges to keep tuition flat at a time when inflation is hurting Virginia families and I appreciate that almost all of our public universities across the Commonwealth are doing so,” Youngkin said in a statement.
George Mason University is now the only college that has yet to make a decision. Youngkin’s press release noted that a recommendation would be coming before their board in the near future.
Stephanie Aaronson, a spokeswoman for George Mason, said in a statement, “We have been engaged in positive discussions with the Governor and we hope to reach a final decision soon.”
Peter Blake, director of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, updated state lawmakers on the status of tuition hikes earlier this week.
Blake’s presentation said four institutions didn’t raise tuition in the first place: Norfolk State University, Virginia Military Institute, William and Mary and the entire Virginia Community College System.
Blake listed nine institutions that, as of Tuesday, planned to use one-time funding for scholarships or waivers to offset increases for one year or for a cohort of students. These include Christopher Newport University, James Madison University, Longwood University, Old Dominion University, Radford University, Richard Bland College, University of Mary Washington, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University and Virginia Tech.
Blake said these waivers are for in-state, undergraduate students only, meaning out-of-state and graduate students are still subject to previously approved tuition increases.
Even with that relief, Blake said students will see costs increase slightly because the one-time rebates don’t apply to added fees that support things like dining services and athletics.
However, Blake said this year’s report reflects a continuation of relatively low increases in tuition and fees at public colleges and universities compared to historic spikes.
“On average, they are going to be less than 3 percent now for the fourth consecutive year. Prior to that, the increases were more in the 5 to 6 percent range,” Blake said in an interview on Friday.
Blake said that’s largely made possible by big investments from the General Assembly that have taken some pressure off institutions of higher education. Earlier this summer, he said lawmakers approved more than one billion dollars in additional funding over two years, which has helped colleges cover costs associated with salary increases, inflationary pressures and new student success initiatives.
“That substantial investment, both on the instruction side and for need-based financial aid, is going to make these next couple of years more affordable than they could have been. So It’s a very material and significant investment on the part of the Commonwealth,” Blake said. “Without that investment, it would’ve been far more difficult for those colleges to make ends meet.”