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UVa making up for tuition hike with student rebate

The University of Virginia will pay in-state students back for the nearly 5% tuition hike over the past year, the university’s Board of Visitors decided on Friday.

The board voted to give students a one-time credit for $690, the same amount as the 4.7% tuition increase for the 2022-23 school year. The university will apply the rebate to the tuition bill for UVa’s in-state undergraduate students.

The board also approved a $182 one-time credit for in-state undergraduate students at UVa Wise. The board had previously approved a 3% increase in base tuition for the 2022-23 school year.

“Setting tuition is one of the most important decisions the management and board of any university makes,” said Whittington Clement, the rector of the University Board of Visitors.

“Over the past several months, we have done careful work to evaluate the governor’s request and several other key factors that made it easier to proceed with this credit, while maintaining our university’s strong financial position,” he said. “This step is a positive outcome for the university and for the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

The rebate will cost the university a total $75 million. It will not change total tuition costs or be applied to university fees.

Students will see the tuition credit on their student accounts for the fall 2022 and spring 2023 semesters.

The board decided on tuition costs for the following two years last December before Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office. The plan included tuition increases for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 academic years and countered Youngkin’s request that public state institutions keep tuition flat.

Although the board met Youngkin’s request, not all members were happy with the political interference.

“I am troubled by the request/demands of your administration which bypassed the existing systems in place,” board member Thomas A DePasquale read in a personal letter addressed to Youngkin during the finance subcommittee meeting on Friday morning.

“Mandating short-term financial strategies for the Commonwealth’s public colleges and schools does not recognize the very effective governance structure that was designed to, and has delivered, strong financial management for our institutions,” he wrote.

DePasquale listed several issues with the rebate, including forced financial moves that could take years to repair, reputational harm from interjecting short-term political wishes at the expense of a multi-year financial plan, and fewer resources to pay staff and faculty at competitive rates.

Youngkin praised UVa’s effort to keep tuition flat.

“At a time when inflation is hurting so many Virginia families, I appreciate the action so many public universities across the Commonwealth have taken to keep tuition flat and I applaud UVa for seriously considering taking similar action,” Youngkin said in a written statement.

UVa is one of only two public Virginia universities getting creative with Youngkin’s request. Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech both approved scholarships earlier this year in order to offset tuition increases.

UVa has managed to keep tuition flat twice in the past four years. The university held tuition flat in 2019 and again at the onset of the pandemic in 2021.

Ending the tuition hold caused costs for first year students to increase from $14,878 to $16,500. Costs of attendance for all other undergraduate and graduate students have increased by 4.7% since the spring.

For example, in-state tuition for students of all years in the School of Education & Human Development rose from $14,188 last school year to $14,878 this year.

Compared to dramatic decreasing in state funding per student over the past several decades, UVa’s tuition has grown slowly, according to Brian Coy, UVa spokesman. State funding has decreased to the point that the combined income from in-state tuition and state funding today is actually less than it was in 1990-91.

Comparatively, tuition makes up 11 percent of the 2022-23 school year budget compared to 30 percent in 1991.

Base in-state higher education inflation rates have nearly doubled since students left Grounds because of the pandemic in 2020 while tuition only increased by 4%, according to the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI).

The HEPI is used by UVa as part of a formula for determining tuition rates each year.

UVa raised tuition 1.48% for 2016-17; 2.18% for 2017-18; 2.4% for 2018-19, 0% for 2019-20; 3.6% in 2020-21 and 0% again for 2021-22.

According to the board subcommittee on finance, UVa is supporting low-income students and those who need financial aid with measures that include a cap on loan amounts and larger grants from the interest on the university’s $14.5 billion endowment.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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