Governor Bob McDonnell issued a letter earlier this month urging college presidents and boards to voluntarily keep in-state tuition increases for the upcoming fall semester to the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index. Virginia colleges and universities worked closely with the administration last year to hold tuition increases to an average of 4.1 percent, the lowest average tuition increase in a decade. Virginia's colleges and universities are currently determining tuition rates for the upcoming school year.
In the letter, the governor writes, " Last year I asked for your help in making higher education a more affordable option for Virginia students by keeping increases for in-state tuition and mandatory fees low. After a decade plus of nearly double-digit tuition increases and mounting student loan debt, the cost of higher education is on the minds of parents, students and policymakers.
"With the support of the General Assembly, we were able to invest an additional $47 million in higher education on top of the $350 million in new money I requested and the General Assembly approved over the past three years. These significant new investments will help create greater access and affordability in higher education, and support our goal of an additional 100,000 degrees over the next 15 years with a focus on STEM-H disciplines.
"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. I ask that you make every effort to keep in-state tuition and fee increases for the fall semester to the rate of inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index, after taking into account institution-specific state budget actions, and considering any unavoidable cost increases for FY14. I recognize that each institution has a different mission and goals that must be taken into account when making these decisions. Some institutions are considering innovative tuition policies to create greater predictability by establishing guaranteed tuition for a students' four-year program, while others are evaluating differential tuition policies in areas where the actual cost to provide the degree is higher (STEM), and graduates in these same programs have greater average earning potential. I encourage you to evaluate these and other tools that keep access affordable and tuition lower. 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."
The full letter is available here: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/utility/docs/letter%20to%20BOV.pdf