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Students walk on Radford University’s campus. Radford and other public universities in Virginia are not raising tuition for in-state students in 2019-20.

No in-state student at a Virginia public university will pay more in tuition and mandatory fees in the upcoming school year for the first time since 2002.

That’s the primary finding of a report by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, or SCHEV, released Friday.

The report found that a $52.5 million incentive to the state’s universities provided adequate inspiration for their boards of visitors to keep the cost of college in check. The General Assembly offered the incentive to the state universities’ governing boards in exchange for not raising tuition for the upcoming school year.

Each board took the state up on its offer.

Despite costs staying flat in tuition and mandatory fees, though, the estimated total charges at four-year colleges will rise 2.2% when considering auxiliary fees, which pay for things such as athletics, dining and dorms, as well as room and board.

The state government is supposed to pay 67% of education and general costs as outlined in the state’s cost-share policy, according to SCHEV. The report found that the state only fulfills 48% of those costs. If the state did meet its obligation, the report estimates, tuition statewide would drop by as much as 37%, or $2,800 per student.

The report says a decrease in state funding explains the rise in tuition and fees over the last two decades, a common thought among higher education policymakers.

Locally, Virginia Tech received $6.3 million and Radford University received $1.7 million to enact the freezes. Costs did tick up at those universities, though, at lower rates than the past.

Tech’s total cost for in-state students rose $479, or 2.1%, when factoring increases in the costs of average room and board and student auxiliary fees. RU’s average cost rose $479, or 1.8%, for in-state students.

Costs for out-of-staters rose at all Virginia universities.

The report pointed out community college is one of the best ways for a Virginia student to save money.

Students who complete an associate degree at a community college and transfer to a four-year college save an average of $18,612 on the cost of a bachelor’s degree, according to the SCHEV analysis.

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