Mar 25, 2015

UVa plans 11% tuition increase for incoming freshmen from Virginia

University of Virginia

It suddenly became clear yesterday why the University of Virginia was in such a hurry to get admissions decisions out to 8,786 prospective freshman last Friday.  A massive 11 percent tuition increase for incoming residents was set to be voted on by the Finance Committee of the UVa Board of Visitors, and it passed.

On Tuesday, the Committee voted to approve a 3.9 percent increase in base tuition for the 2015-16 academic year for incoming in- and out-of-state students.  But tucked within the proposal was a $1,000 “step increase” in addition to base tuition applied only to in-state freshmen entering in fall 2015.  

A second step increase of an additional $1,000 is planned for in-state freshmen entering in fall of 2016.  

With full board approval on Wednesday, the total price of an education for Virginians entering in the fall will increase from $12,998 to $14,468—or 11 percent according to the Washington POST.  Engineering freshmen will also be subject to an additional “tuition differential” of at least $2,000. And none of this includes room and board or other miscellaneous expenses incurred by students.

A university press release defends the proposal as offering “more predictability for families,” as tuition adjustments in subsequent years will be tied to inflation, plus one percent.

The step increase plan is designed to make up for previous changes in the AccessUVa financial aid program, which last fall added loans as part of the comprehensive aid provided to all students with need.

Under the new proposal, certain Virginia students from low-income families will see total debt load reduced from $14,000 to $4,000.  Other students from middle-income families, who were expected to assume a debt of up to $28,000, will not have a cap of $18,000.

The Washington POST characterizes the plan as “one of the highest college tuition-and-fee increases in the nation.”  And students, particularly prospective freshmen, were shocked by the numbers which had been kept secret by behind-the-scenes negotiations among key players on the BOV Finance Committee.

It’s no secret that administrators at UVa have been secretly envious of the tuition increases applied to in-state freshmen at the College of William and Mary.  Starting in the fall of 2013, William and Mary implemented a new pricing policy that increased tuition and fees 14 percent for entering Virginia students.  At the same time, the College guaranteed that those students would face no additional tuition increases for the balance of their four years as undergraduates.

Without too much protest from Commonwealth families, William and Mary managed to significantly increase revenue from tuition.  And UVa noticed.

So for all those prospective Virginia freshmen who spent the weekend celebrating their good fortune, the news out of Charlottesville was a bit of a buzz kill.  No doubt some will be looking a little closer at those generous scholarships offered earlier in the game by other colleges and universities, both within the state and in other parts of the country.

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