Every four-year public college and university in Virginia has announced that they are freezing their in-state tuition for students after the state legislature provided incentives. Six schools are also freezing out-of-state tuition, which the legislature did not provide incentives to do.
The last institution to announce it would freeze its tuition was Longwood University in Farmville.
The state legislature set aside $57.5 million in its budget to allocate money in exchange for any institution that froze tuition. The amendment forbids the universities from making up the lost revenue from tuition by raising other in-state general and educational fees.
However, the raising of some fees to offset the cost will still be permitted, such as raising fees for out-of-state students.
“Increased state support truly benefits Virginia families and strengthens our land-grant mission to provide access to higher education at a time when costs are increasing and demand for a Virginia Tech degree continues to grow,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said in a news release upon the university’s announcement. “It reinforces our ongoing commitment to improve academic quality while making our university accessible to all Virginia students who qualify.”
William and Mary University Rector John E. Littel thanked state officials for the additional funds in a news release.
“We want to thank Virginia’s elected officials for their exemplary leadership in partnering with the Commonwealth’s institutions of higher education to make this action possible,” Littel said. “We are focused on ensuring access and affordability for Virginia students to the state’s outstanding and diverse public colleges and universities. The state support we received this year and the subsequent action today by the Board are important steps in this process.”
House Speaker Kirk Cox said in a news release that this is the outcome the legislature had hoped for.
“This is the exact outcome we all hoped for,” Cox said. “I applaud our colleges and universities for stepping up to the plate and working alongside us in our effort to make college more affordable and more accessible to those who wish to attend. I want to thank our Appropriations Committee and Chairman Chris Jones for their hard work in including the incentivized funding in this years budget.”
Chris Braunlich, president of the Virginia-based Thomas Jefferson Institute, told the Center Square in an email that this type of incentive was the best way to lower costs for students.
“Parents (and students) will pay less and presumably need to borrow less,” Braunlich said. “Some two decades ago, a freeze was imposed: This one is voluntary based on incentives provided by the General Assembly, and a far preferable method of addressing the issue.”
Braunlich warned, however, that colleges were able to offset these savings by increasing fees elsewhere when the legislature last passed a tuition freeze.
In a statement emailed to The Center Square, Jeff Ryer, the press secretary for the Virginia Senate Republican Caucus, said that the freeze was one of several measures the legislature passed.
“The college tuition freeze was one of several measures enacted during this year’s General Assembly session to reduce Virginians’ expenses,” Ryer said. “In addition, the largest state tax relief package in a generation – including a tax rebate that will be disbursed later this year – was approved and enacted.”
The legislature also increased financial aid funding by $16 million and reduced the cost of prepaid tuition contracts by $3,000. It also passed a bill directing colleges and universities to hold public hearings for students and parents of students to comment on the rising cost of tuition.