VCU is considering a tuition increase between 3 and 5 percent to make up for an anticipated $8 million reduction in state appropriations.
For the 2018 fiscal year, VCU will lose $7.8 million in budget cuts, according to meeting minutes from the Board of Visitors most recent meeting — a budget workshop held a day after the General Assembly reconvened to consider the finalized state budget.
According to Karol Kain Gray, vice president for finance and budget, the university faces a revenue gap of about $10 million to pay for “unavoidable and priority needs” with “a big piece” of the funds covering a 3 percent salary increase for teaching and research faculty in the 2017-18 school year.
Board member Robert D. Holsworth noted that VCU has a large amount of debt amongst its graduates.
“Are we abandoning VCU’s commitment to affordability?” Holsworth said.
VCU is currently the third most expensive university in the state for in-state full-time students, behind the College of William & Mary and the University of Virginia, respectively. Since the 2013-14 school year, William & Mary and U.Va has seen a tuition increase of more than 25 percent, compared to VCU’s tuition increase of 7.6 percent.
According to VCU’s Fiscal Year 2017-18 Budget Overview, tuition and fees are the main source of university revenue and are anticipated to bring in $399 million this year while State General Funds are estimated to produce another $175 million.
VCU has been dependent upon term and adjunct faculty to a far greater extent than other Virginia universities, according to the April 6 budget overview. In fall 2015, 35 percent of VCU’s faculty was tenured; 62 percent of Virginia Tech’s faculty was tenured; 57 percent of the University of Virginia’s faculty was tenured; and 47 percent of George Mason University faculty was tenured.
The budget overview also stated VCU has increasingly had to “depend on tuition & fees” to cover faculty salaries due to reduced state support. Raising the tuition from 3-5 percent will increase the university’s revenue anywhere from $10,670 to $19,74.
Although there would not be increases in mandatory fees, the Board discussed raising housing and meal-plan costs to generate additional income.
Since the 2014-2015 academic year, in-state tuition rose 3.5 percent, according to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. In the 2006-07 school year, tuition for in-state students was $5,819. During the 2016-17 academic year it has risen to $13,190 — an increase of more than $4,000 in the past 10 years.
This is not the first time tuition increase has raised concern on campus. Last spring, students disrupted the Board of Visitors budget workshop and demanded a tuition freeze. The Board raised tuition and fees by 2.8 percent for the current academic year, a $358 increase for in-state undergraduates.
The board will vote on the tuition increase at its May 12 meeting.