Coronavirus-caused economic plunge forces Virginia lawmakers to withdraw ambitious higher education spending plans

Home|Blog|Coronavirus-caused economic plunge forces Virginia lawmakers to withdraw ambitious higher education spending plans

Plans for Governor Northam’s historic expansion of community college access for low and moderate income Virginians technically still are on the books. But after the General Assembly’s springtime reconvened session, there’s no money allocated for Northam’s “G3” program.

Lawmakers facing an unprecedented economic plunge due to the coronavirus pandemic pulled the plug on virtually all new state government spending in the upcoming two-year fiscal cycle. That also means good-bye to previously approved state employee and faculty bonuses and pay raises.

The state funding cuts reportedly have some four-year universities considering tuition increases.

But VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois has made it clear in communications with our colleges that the VCCS State Board will not consider a tuition hike at Virginia’s Community Colleges for the fall 2020 semester. The board is set to meet virtually in May, and could consider nominal fee increases at that time. The VCCS State Board may have to consider tuition changes down the road, depending on budget decisions from the General Assembly.

State budget writers are still trying to cope with the extent and impact of the economic shutdown that was forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislature is expected back in special session this summer or fall to consider further budget cuts.

Anticipating another round of state budget cuts, senior leadership at the VCCS is advising system colleges to hold the line on spending wherever possible.

And while Congress allocated federal stimulus money to American colleges and universities, including community colleges, educators are still working to understand the restrictions and regulations that come with those funds.

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