The annual Board of Visitors met to discuss tuition Sunday, and unfortunately for students’ wallets, the price of a higher education degree will continue to rise.
The meeting, which was held specifically to discuss charges for next year, resulted in a two-hour long deliberation that concluded in a 4.9 percent increase in tuition for in-state students, and a 5 percent increase for out-of-state students. This will cost out-of-state students an extra $1,296, and an extra $532 for in-state students.
Dwight Shelton, Chief Financial Officer for Virginia Tech, presented the proposals, which also include a library fee and an increase in program fees for engineering, and architecture and design programs.
Though the board only approved minimal increases to these specific departments’ fees, board member George Nolen, alum and CEO of Siemens Corporation, suggested that certain degrees at Tech are “significantly underpriced.”
“We need to make that quantum leap saying, ‘this degree is worth more than others,’” Nolen said.
Engineering students will face an increase to annual fees from $30 to $33, while architecture and design students will face a $65 increase, from $650 to $715.
Similar to the architecture and engineering fees, Pamplin College of Business will also start charging an additional $25 per class for 1000 level classes.
Nolen argued that students graduating with degrees like business, information systems, and other technology and engineering fields are hired at an incredibly high rate, and that these degrees should cost more to obtain than an English degree, for example.
The board approved these changes, along with the new tuition increases, with 11 yes-votes, and 1 no-vote. The singular no-vote came from Suzanne Obenshain. Obenshain, who was elected to the board in 2010 by Gov. Bob McDonnell, disapproved of increasing the out-of-state rate only a little more than the in-state rate. She felt that there was a need to increase out-of-state tuition significantly more than the board had recommended.
“If we are such a top institution as we claim to be, I think we will continue to attract out-of-state students despite tuition rises,” Obenshain argued. “We need to show Virginians that we’re taking care of Virginians.”
Other board members, including President Steger, said that raising the out-of-state cost any higher would result in losing out-of-state applicants and students.
“I think we’ve exceeded what we can charge out-of-state students,” President Steger countered.
Steger noted that Tech is currently participating in a market study that will hope to guide the board’s future meetings regarding tuition prices.
However, Obenshain adamantly fought to increase out-of-state prices to be more competitive with other Virginia colleges.
According to Collegeboard.com, universities like William and Mary and the University of Virginia charge $36,753 and $37,336, respectively, for out-of-state students — a number comparatively higher than Virginia Tech at $34,858 for students living on campus.
To counteract the tuition increase, “Funds for the Future” is a new program that has been instituted to help lower income families. Families that make less then $30,000 a year will not have to pay any of the tuition and fee increases, while families making up to $100,000 dollars will be granted some reprieve as well.
Room and board will also go up an average of $396 per year to amount to a total of $7,560. This will cover personnel costs, adjustments to fringe benefit rates, increased utility costs, student affairs costs, the maintenance of facilities, debt service and planning costs for major facility renovation projects.
Among other notable changes is a $20 library fee that will go directly to the library’s operating budget, in the hopes of improving rankings and helping to advance academic achievement.
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