January 30, 2019
Virginia House unanimously passes legislation to elevate the voices of students and families before tuition hikes.

Today, Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust applauds members of the Virginia House of Delegates for unanimously passing legislation today to require that governing boards at public colleges and universities hear from students and families before voting to set tuition rates.

Earlier this month, over 50 organizations and community leaders came together to support mandated periods of public comment in a letter circulated to members of the General Assembly, including AARP-Virginia, the Virginia Parent Teacher Association and the Virginia Education Association. Read the full coalition letter here.

The House bill was sponsored by Delegate Jason Miyares, who also carried similar legislation in 2018.  Last year, Delegate Miyares's legislation was also unanimously approved by the House of Delegates before being killed in the Senate Finance Committee by a single vote.  

"Together, our public college boards are responsible for spending - and raising - billions of dollars each year," Delegate Miyares said, "and saying that the Virginians they're responsible for educating can't be heard when it comes to setting rates is old-school thinking."  

In addition to Delegate Miyares's bill, public comment legislation was also introduced in the Virginia Senate by Senators Glen Sturtevant and Chap Peterson.  This afternoon, Senator Petersen's bill was unanimously reported out by the Senate Finance Committee's subcommittee on education, and is expected to be considered by the full committee tomorrow morning.

Delegate Miyares's House bill will be considered by the Senate later this session.

"Concerns about skyrocketing rates for tuition and fees aren't isolated to one campus or another," said Dr. James Toscano, president of Partners.  "And college trustees who set them need to hear firsthand what the public thinks beyond getting briefings and handouts from college officials.
"We applaud the members of the House of Delegates for standing up for Virginia's students and families and passing this common sense legislation," Dr. Toscano added.  "This year, we are also hopeful that the members of the Senate Finance Committee will recognize the importance of giving voice to Virginia's students and families, and follow the example of their House colleagues."