RICHMOND — Virginia Tech will keep tuition flat for in-state undergraduates and raise it 3% for everyone else this fall, a reaction to swelling inflation and stagnant wages. The decision comes weeks after Gov. Glenn Youngkin urged state schools not to increase their costs.
Next fall, Tech undergrads from Virginia will pay about $14,000 in tuition and fees and $11,000 for room and board. The total cost of attendance will rise about 3%. A board of visitors executive committee unanimously approved the measure Tuesday in Richmond.
“Everything we can do to help our students will be much appreciated by them, and it’s certainly supported by the board,” said Letitia Long, head of the Virginia Tech board of visitors.
Tuition costs in Virginia remain a mixed bag. Some schools have raised their prices, citing new expenses and an inability to maintain quality without charging more. Others have kept their tuition flat, acknowledging the burden students already face in the form of inflation.
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Initially, Virginia Tech considered a 3% tuition increase. Like all state schools, Tech must raise the salaries of most employees about 5%. Electricity, insurance and leasing costs have risen, too.
But in the past week, administrators opted to fund a scholarship that would cover the cost of an increase for in-state undergraduates. The school reallocated $7 million to fund it for one year.
Wages haven’t risen to meet rising costs, President Tim Sands said, meaning students need more help. Keeping tuition flat “will help Virginia Tech avoid passing on the full extent of inflationary costs to our students and their families,” Sands said.
The tuition freeze doesn’t apply to the 30% of undergraduates who live outside the state, and it doesn’t apply to graduate students. But the majority of grad students work for the university, and the cost of their tuition is covered.
Helping Tech’s financial situation was a generous contribution by the state, which allocated $15 million per year toward affordability and almost $11 million in financial aid. Altogether, Virginia Tech will spend nearly $40 million on financial aid this year.
The decision to keep tuition flat for most students comes about a month after Youngkin urged schools not to raise their costs.
Asked how much influence Youngkin’s remarks had, Tech spokesperson Mark Owczarski said, “The board is charged with setting tuition. We’re very pleased with the amount of state support this year. Today’s decision reflects the decision to maintain our value with grateful support from the state.”
Non-academic fees, like athletics and transportation, will go up $133. Room and board will rise $500.
For out-of-state students, who don’t get the scholarship, the cost of education rises 3% to roughly $35,000 annually. Their total cost of attendance is nearly $46,000.
Tuition and fees make up about 70% of the school’s $880 million education budget. The state covers most of the remaining costs. Altogether, Virginia Tech will have a total budget of $1.9 billion, which was approved Tuesday by the board.
Among the 15 public colleges in Virginia, Tech’s costs are 10th highest.
Some universities have decided tuition hikes were unavoidable — Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Virginia, James Madison University and others have raised tuition at least 3%.
A few have managed to keep their tuition flat — William & Mary and Virginia State University aren’t raising tuition, but they are increasing fees. For students and families, the big picture is that most state schools are raising the cost to attend.