Facing budget concerns, VCU considers tuition hike

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Facing the rising costs of retaining teachers and utilities, plus finding money for financial aid, support services and academic facilities, Virginia Commonwealth University may raise tuition rates.

The VCU Board of Visitors met over the weekend to discuss tuition options, according to a news release from university spokeswoman Pam Lepley.

"VCU President Michael Rao said VCU faces funding circumstances that are unique in the Commonwealth. VCU is one of four Tier III institutions in Virginia, along with the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and the College of William & Mary. But unlike its peers, VCU serves the largest in-state student population at the lowest tuition rate among both the Tier III and several other state universities," Lepley wrote in the release.

Despite increased funding from the state, the amount of money coming in from the General Assembly is almost $52 million less than what VCU received in 2008, according to the university.

“That leaves fewer dollars per student to invest in a learning experience that must be world class,” Rao said in a statement. “As a public university, we work diligently to keep in-state tuition for undergraduate students low. We also must work as diligently to generate revenues necessary to help ensure student success.”

To meet increased costs, the board will consider a four-percent tuition increase and some new, 'market-based tuition strategies.'

“New, market-based tuition pricing may generate revenues to move into fiscal year 2014-2015, but it must be paired with expense reallocation and new ways of thinking about current operational programs that cut costs,” David W. Hanson, chief operating officer and senior vice president, said in a statement.

One market-based tuition pricing strategy is a per-credit pricing structure. It would be based on an annual four percent tuition and fee increase over four years and 15 credits per semester. This set-up, the university said, would mean more money from VCU, but allow students to graduate faster - lowering their overall costs.

“It would produce more revenue than the current block tuition pricing and provide greater resources to support a student progressing to graduation in four years, rather than five or six under the current structure – saving students money in the long run,” Hanson said.

Market-based tuition may not be made available to juniors and seniors, who may just have to pay more for their tuition next year. However the university acknowledged that rising tuition for those students could impact graduation rates.

If approved during a Board of Visitors meeting next months, tuition changes

Click here to read more about VCU's tuition proposals.