As the Virginia General Assembly adjourned sine die on Saturday without finalizing a state budget, much was left unresolved – including a proposal to hold down tuition rates for Virginia students and families.
This year, the House of Delegates proposed $240.3 million in new funding for higher education, including $92 million for colleges and universities that voluntarily hold down tuition increases. But unlike in previous years when legislators required schools to completely freeze in-state tuition in exchange for tuition moderation funding, this year’s proposal would allow them to still increase tuition up to 3 percent!
As students and families are already paying more at the grocery store and the gas pump, Partners believes they should not be expected to pay more in tuition also. While weighing in on the House proposal, Partners’ director of policy and advocacy, Stacie Gordon, was featured in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Virginia Scope, and The Breeze.
“It is disappointing that the House of Delegates has softened their stance on a tuition freeze this year despite the significant amount of new funding they are proposing for colleges and universities,” said Stacie Gordon, director of policy and advocacy at Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust.
“In 2019 and 2020, the House supported $52 million and $80 million, respectively, in new funding for institutions that froze tuition. But this year, despite proposing a whopping $240.3 million in new funding, they want to allow tuition increases up to 3 percent.
“Governor Youngkin had the right idea when he said, ‘There are ways to grow universities without growing tuition.' Coming out of a pandemic, students and families should not have to spend more for the same education, especially if universities receive a substantial boost in state support."
As state lawmakers continue budget negotiations in the coming weeks, Partners will continue to call upon the House and Senate conferees to adjust the House’s tuition moderation proposal to incentivize a tuition freeze and include it in the final budget!
This year, Partners continued our years-long crusade to promote greater transparency in Virginia higher education and was proud to support efforts aimed at providing Virginia’s current and prospective college students with greater information to help them make more informed college decisions.
-> HB 1299 (Coyner) / SB 738 (Morrissey) Students' Right To Know Bill
This bill requires the Department of Education to collect and distribute information to public schools that assists high school students in making more informed college decisions and ensure they are aware of the costs and benefits of different educational tracks. These bills were championed by Delegate Carrie Coyner and Senator Joe Morrissey, supported by both Partners and the Foundation for Government Accountability, and passed both chambers unanimously.
-> HB 355 (Freitas) Higher Education Transparency
This bill expands on requirements for data transparency related to public colleges and universities to make the institutions more easily comparable when it comes to average student debt, average and net annual tuition and fees and room and board, retention rates, four-, five-, and six-year graduation rates, percentage of Pell-eligible students, average post-graduate wages within five years of graduation, and average wages of alumni within five- and 20-years of graduation. The bill was passed by both houses unanimously.