Virginia Tech students cross Drillfield Drive (copy) 2 (copy)

Student tuition is again being discussed around the state.

For what would be the first time in almost two decades, Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors is considering not raising tuition and mandatory fees for in-state students.

Or, it could maintain the status quo and raise the cost of attending the university for the 18th consecutive year.

The board will weigh the annual costs for the 2019-20 school year during its April meeting. The university posted its potential range of tuition and fee increases in accordance with state law Thursday.

“Board members will consider a combination of tuition and fee adjustments to address increasing costs of personnel; fringe benefit rate increases; escalation in fixed costs; investment in academic programs, including faculty; and enhancing high-demand student support services,” the notice said. “To further advance the access to and affordability of a Virginia Tech education, the university is also working to increase student financial aid programs.”

The board will weigh the following options:

  • Between no increase for tuition and fee revenue and a 3.9 percent increase for in-state undergraduate students.
  • Between a 2.7 percent and 3.1 percent increase in tuition and fees for out-of-state undergrads. The notice said this increase is being considered because “taxpayer support is not provided to support nonresident students.”
  • The board will weigh an increase in the comprehensive fee of between 2.9 and 3.9 percent. That pays for auxiliary enterprises, such as health care, counseling, transit and student activities.

Tuition and fees have steadily increased at Tech and across the state every year since 2001 when tuition was frozen statewide.

Any small percentage increase represents hundreds of dollars for individual students and their families.

Tech’s tuition and fees rose 2.9 percent for the current school year over the previous one. Annual student tuition and mandatory fees are:

  • $13,620 for in-state undergraduate students
  • $31,908 for out-of-state undergraduate students
  • $15,510 for in-state graduate students
  • $29,629 for out-of-state graduate students

No increase for in-state students is made more probable by a $52.5 million appropriation in the state budget for public universities that don’t increase tuition and fees.

Tech would receive $6.3 million of that appropriation from the General Assembly if the board doesn’t increase in-state tuition and mandatory fees.

The state budget says “the Board of Visitors is encouraged to limit increases on tuition and mandatory educational and general fees for in-state, undergraduate students to the extent possible.”

Tech spokeswoman Tracy Vosburgh declined to say what university officials will recommend to the board.

“I’m not ready for that conversation,” she said.

She did say, though, the board will weigh affordability and Tech looks at the potential influx of state money as an “opportunity.”

“Making a Virginia Tech education affordable is a priority,” Vosburgh said.

There will be no public comment about tuition and fees at the April meeting.

If Radford University’s board doesn’t increase tuition and fees for in-state students, the school will receive $1.6 million in state funds.

Tech’s situation is much different from the one faced by the University of Virginia. UVa’s Board of Visitors already approved a tuition increase for the 2019-20 school year in the fall.

UVa’s incentive for not increasing tuition on in-state students is $5.52 million and the school is considering nullifying the increase to get it, the Charlottesville Daily Progress reported.

The Daily Progress reported a group of people at UVa are evaluating the legislature’s proposal but the incentive is smaller than revenue the university expects to generate from tuition increases.

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Robby Korth covers higher education, primarily Virginia Tech.

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