Originally published November 26, 2012 in The Commonwealth Times
University officials announced they predict a 5.5. percent tuition increase for in-state students next year at last week’s budget town hall meeting.
VCU officials broke down tuition increases, new building renovations and the university budget for students during the meeting as a way to inform the VCU community on their processes.
The forum was led by David Hanson, vice president of finance and administration, in an effort to provide the VCU community with an understanding of the VCU budget. It was designed as a way for the community to easily grasp the basic financial structure and budgeting processes of the university and included a discussion on the overall budget and sources of revenue.
Hanson’s office has predicted a 5.5 percent increase to in-state tuition for undergraduates next year with no foreseen budget cuts and an emphasis on hiring new faculty. This could mean an increase of about $430 for in-state, full-time students if the increase is proposed and the Board of Visitors approved it.
“I know that sounds hard as students,” said Hanson. “But we make sure as much as we can goes into the classroom.”
Hanson said that ideally, he would not like to see a rise in tuition rates at all.
“Given cost escalation and unavoidable costs, it may not be possible to keep tuition and fees constant,” he said.
Despite rising tuition costs, Hanson remains positive that VCU is still “the best deal in the state” compared to other major universities and research institutions. According to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the average undergraduate tuition at VCU cost $7,600 last year for in-state students. For comparison, Old Dominion costs students $5,052 per year, William & Mary was $8,365 and George Mason costs $6,752 annually.
Rising tuition rates and new faculty hires are a major concerns for students, according to Monroe Park SGA chairperson Katheryn Witt.
“I think that students are very concerned about the increase in tuition,” Witt said. “A little increase is going to be a lot to some people.”
However, Witt said that many students will be receptive to increases if the administration continues to make the student body aware of what they’re going to do with the added tuition.
New faculty hires is another main concern to students, said Witt, who noted that she hears many complaints in the SGA about the need for more class sections and teachers.
“I think most of the students are in favor of hiring new faculty,” Witt said.
From now until February, Hanson’s office will work to prioritize the projects outlined in the Master Plan for the Board of Visitors. The Board will decide in the spring the order of the projects and where those funds will be drawn from according to the priorities set by the president of the university and the board in the university’s strategic plan, the Quest for Distinction. Proposed renovations in the Master Plan include additions to the library, renovations to Sanger Hall, the construction of an allied health building and the addition of two possible new residence halls.
Hanson predicted that the new residence halls will be the top project next year. He said creating more residence halls is a way to appeal to student life on campus.
“Student retention is the framework of the Quest (for Distinction),” Hanson said. “Even though (residence halls) are expensive, they are critical to our mission.”