Study finds in-state students able to pay more in tuition

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December 4, 2009

5:17 AM

A chief criticism of proposed in-state tuition increases at the College of William and Mary is that it will decrease Virginians’ ability to afford higher education costs.

As it turns out, a significant number of Virginians could probably afford to pay more than they do now.
According to numbers obtained by The Flat Hat through the Office of Institutional Analysis and Effectiveness and the Office of Financial Aid, 710 of the 1,846 in-state undergraduates at the College who submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for the 2008-2009 school year did not qualify as “needy” for aid.
In fact, the median expected family contribution of those non-needy families was $37,204, just $152 shy of the $37,356 total out-of-state cost of attendance for that year.

The median expected family contribution of the 1,136 undergraduate needy in-state students was $6,420, demonstrating $14,185 in gross need.

As for the approximately 2,100 in-state students who did not submit a FAFSA form, officials say they likely would not have qualified.

“I mean, we don’t know absolutely for certain, but I would assume that people that don’t qualify would have a family contribution even higher thanthose who qualify, even among the no-need who qualify,” Director of Financial Aid Ed Irish said.

Nevertheless, Irish noted that the only statistic the College keeps that might address this question is the Cooperative Institutional Research Program Freshman Survey, which was last administered to the Class of 2012 by the Office of Student Affairs in 2008.

Both Irish and Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88 Ph.D ’06 warned against drawing any conclusions from this data.

“The CIRP survey would only have captured the information for this year’s sophomore students, and the reported data will be more than a year old — and administered in the summer, prior to the current recession, at that,” Ambler said in an e-mail.

According to a report presented by Ambler April 16, only 54 percent of the members in the Class of 2012 completed the survey.

While financial need has increased in recent years, Irish believes that families’ incomes are exhibiting an upward trend.

“Over time there’s certainly a correlation between academic strength, academic success and family income,” Irish said. “As our academic profile continues to edge up a little better, family income goes along with it.”

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