- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2012

With virtually all of the drama surrounding the Virginia state budget out of the way, Gov. Bob McDonnell is looking toward how he’s actually going to spend the money in the two-year, $85 billion spending plan.

And on Friday, he turned to college presidents in the state to urge them to keep ever-increasing tuition rates in check.

“During the last decade, Virginia students experienced on average, double-digit tuition increases annually,” he wrote in a letter released Monday. “This trend is unacceptable and cannot continue. I, therefore, ask that you endeavor to keep in-state tuition increases for the fall semester and beyond to the increase in the Consumer Price Index, because we cannot let dramatic price increases be a deterrent to higher education for all qualified and motivated Virginians.”

Mr. McDonnell had also made the request in a conference call in March.

The average in-state tuition increase for 2011-2012 was 9.7 percent, and the Consumer Price Index for the last 12 months was 2.7 percent. The University of Virginia has announced for 2012-2013 a tuition increase of 3.7 percent — the lowest increase since 2001-2002.

The state’s biennial budget provides more than $230 million in new funding for the state’s colleges and universities. Mr. McDonnell still has the opportunity to amend the budget that passed last Wednesday and said in the letter that he was considering doing so.

“Both the General Assembly and I proposed this new state funding for higher education with the clear understanding that institutions will temper the need to raise in-state tuition and fees this coming year,” he wrote.

“We recognize that your institutions have not fully recovered from the reductions which began in 2007, but together we must continue to find internal operating efficiencies and implement best practices to educate more students in a more cost-effective manner.”

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