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McDonnell releases letter urging colleges to rein in tuition hikes

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Gov. Bob McDonnell is putting pressure on Virginia public colleges and universities to keep tuition increases low for the coming academic year.

On Thursday, McDonnell released an April 4 letter sent to college presidents and their boards, urging them to voluntarily keep in-state tuition hikes to no more than the increase in the Consumer Price Index.

Virginia colleges and universities held tuition increases to an average of 4.1 percent last year, the lowest tuition increase in a 10 years. Many public colleges and universities are deliberating tuition rates that would take effect next fall.

In his letter,  McDonnell noted that the General Assembly this year approved $47 million more for higher education in addition to $350 million in new money approved over the past three years.

“Even with this progress, I remain concerned about the affordability of post-secondary education for the young people of Virginia. I need your continued innovation and leadership in holding down in-state tuition and fee increases,” the letter said.

McDonnell noted some schools are considering guaranteed tuition for a students’ four-year program, while others are weighing differential tuition policies in areas where the cost to train students is higher (such as in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM disciplines) and graduates have greater average earning potential.

“I encourage you to evaluate these and other tools that keep access affordable and tuition lower,” the governor wrote.  “I ask you to continue to aggressively pursue recommendations from internal and external reviews for cost savings, and in implementing the reallocation of resources’ policy embodied in the budget.”

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