- The Washington Times - Friday, April 25, 2003

Public colleges and universities in Virginia will raise tuition by as much as $900 in some cases next year, leaving many prospective students scrambling at the last minute to find extra money to cover the costs.
Like most states across the country, Virginia is struggling through a massive budget shortfall. Since April 2002, more than $6 billion has been cut, with higher education taking one of the largest hits in reductions in state government money.
The reductions have forced many institutions to cut classes, lay off professors and increase class size. In some cases, the cuts could cause many students to spend an extra year in school because they may not complete their required courses in four years.
Last year, colleges and universities added a maximum midyear surcharge of $400 to their tuition rates to help offset some of the cuts. The surcharge will now be factored into the tuition rate each year.
"We have eliminated 13 faculty positions and we don't have some of the same classes, but where else can you turn?" said William Walker, assistant vice president for public affairs at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg.
Today, the college's Board of Visitors is expected to approve a $1,000 tuition increase for in-state undergraduates next year. The recommendations, put together at Tuesday's Finance Committee meeting, would set 2003-04 in-state tuition and fees at $6,430. The total cost for out-of-state undergraduates would be $27,010, a 7 percent increase from last year.
"We certainly hope we have seen the worst," Mr. Walker said. "We have lost $28 million in total state support [since the cuts began] … and we feel this does not reflect the amount of support we'd like to have from the state."
State colleges and universities haven't always had to raise tuition. In fact, tuition was frozen during the administration of Gov. George Allen, a Republican, and was even rolled back in 1999 during the administration of Gov. James S. Gilmore III, a Republican.
William & Mary is not the only school coping with the budget crisis. Almost all state-supported institutions are raising their tuition rates next year.
The Board of Visitors at Virginia Tech approved an increase of $759 for in-state undergraduates this year for tuition alone. In-state tuition for undergraduates at the Blacksburg school will be $5,095. The rate for out-of-state will be $15,029. These figures do not include room and board.
Officials at James Madison University in Harrisonburg raised tuition by $600 for the 2003-04 school year. George Mason University officials in Fairfax voted to increase tuition by $336. The University of Virginia's tuition increased by $984.
Some activists suggested raising out-of-state tuition to take the burden off in-state students. But college administrators opposed the idea because they say they need to remain competitive so that the best students, regardless of where they live, will consider attending Virginia's institutions.
"Currently out-of-state students are absorbing 117 percent of the cost for their education," said John G. Rocovich, a member of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. "We have to be cautious, particularly with our graduate students, that we don't hinder our ability to be competitive in this market. The University of Maryland is right next door."

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