- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 2, 2011

RICHMOND — Virginia undergraduates will pay an average of 7.9 percent more this year in tuition and mandatory fees to attend state public colleges, according to a state report released Monday.

In-state undergraduates will pay an average of $704 more, while community college students will pay about $285 more. Virginia students at the two-year Richard Bland College will pay $250 more, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia says in the annual report.

Among individual institutions, the increases range from 5.7 percent at Old Dominion University to 12 percent at the University of Mary Washington.

The overall increase is less than last year, when tuition and fees went up an average of 10.6 percent. SCHEV said the governor and the 2011 General Assembly allocated an additional $97 million in general funds to public colleges, allowing institutions to impose smaller tuition and fee increases this year.

“This amendment to the original budget provided some much-needed relief, but could not prevent our colleges and universities from suffering a fifth straight year of state general fund operating budget reductions,” the report says, adding that the annual declines “have put the affordability and accessibility of Virginia’s nationally acclaimed system of public education at risk.”

On one key measure of affordability, the average cost for an in-state undergraduate student living on campus is estimated at an unprecedented 43.7 percent of per capita disposable income. The percentage has crept steadily higher since dipping to 32.2 percent in 2002.

SCHEV also says the state’s contribution to the cost of education has fallen to an all-time low of 51 percent, with students footing 49 percent of the bill. The state’s goal is for it to pay two-thirds of the cost for in-state undergraduates. Ten years ago, the state was paying 77 percent of the cost.

Out-of-state undergraduates pay more than the full cost of their education.

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