May 23, 2019
The Votes Are In: Virginia Students and Families Will Save More Than $50M This Fall

2019 has been an exciting and historic year for higher education in Virginia. Thanks to a series of recent state and institutional policy decisions, Virginia’s colleges and universities are on a track to more transparency, accountability, and affordability.

This year, the General Assembly allocated an additional $52.5 million in new state funding for public colleges and universities who agree to freeze in-state, undergraduate tuition and fee rates for one year. Beginning July 1, a new state law will require Boards of Visitors to hold public comment periods ahead of tuition decisions.  

Thanks to this historic effort by state lawmakers, the governing boards of every public college and university in Virginia voted to freeze in-state tuition and mandatory E&G fees for the 2019-20 academic year.

Read more about the future of Virginia higher education and extensive coverage of Partners' activity:

Some institutions went above and beyond the scope of the General Assembly’s tuition moderation plan and others embraced new measures of public accountability of their own accord.

Extending the Freeze to All Undergraduates

By extending a tuition freeze to all undergraduate students, six Virginia university governing boards went above and beyond the scope of the General Assembly's plan to promote affordability:

While institutions had to freeze in-state tuition and mandatory E&G fees to qualify for their portion of the $52.5 million tuition moderation fund, the General Assembly's plan does not extend to out-of-state tuition.  By finding the means within its existing finance structure, these institutions demonstrated both a willingness and ability to hold down costs without relying on state incentives to do so.  

Holding Public Comment before the July 1 mandate

Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed legislation to require public colleges and university to hold public comment periods ahead of tuition decisions. But while the new law does not go into effect until July 1, several Boards of Visitors preemptively held public comment periods this spring to allow students and/or concerned members of the public to weigh in on tuition decisions, including:

As the first institution to hold public comment this Spring, Virginia Commonwealth University set the gold standard for format with the Board of Visitors welcoming public comment from students during their budget forum in the presence of the full board.

Other Takeaways…