General Assembly funding decisions have a profound impact on tuitions at state-supported colleges and universities.
“This is the first time in my term as chancellor that we’ve been able to maintain existing tuitions system-wide from one year to the next,” said Glenn DuBois, who took the helm at the VCCS in 2001. “We’re grateful that lawmakers were able to help us hold down the rising cost of higher education for our students and their families.”
Tuition and fees for a student enrolling in a Virginia community college this year are approximately 35 percent of the average cost to attend a public four-year public institution.
At their 2019 legislative session, Virginia lawmakers allocated $52.5 million to encourage the state’s two-year and four-year institutions of higher learning to hold the line on tuition and mandatory fees for in-state students for the upcoming academic year.
The VCCS State Board voted May 16 to freeze tuition and mandatory fees in the coming academic year for in-state and out-of-state students, thus qualifying for $8.1 million of the statewide tuition moderation fund.
As of this writing, almost all of Virginia’s four-year universities also have decided to hold the line on tuitions for the upcoming year, due to the availability of tuition moderation funds.
Virginia lawmakers established a goal in 2004 that the state general fund would pay 67 percent of the cost of higher education, and students would shoulder 33 percent of the cost. That 67 percent goal has never been achieved.
In the current fiscal year, approximately 43 percent of VCCS expenses are funded through the state budget; 57 percent of system expenses are funded through tuition and fees.
State revenues plummeted during the Great Recession a decade ago, resulting in reduced state funding for higher education. Starting in 2008, VCCS annual tuition hikes ranged from 7.5-9.5 percent to offset the loss of state resources. The increases have moderated since then, with the VCCS State Board approving a 2.5 percent tuition hike in May 2018 for the just-ending academic year.