Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell announced a series of further state budget cuts Wednesday that will decrease funding to higher education-related programs by $29.4 million over the next two years.
“We face an historic budget shortfall in the commonwealth,” he said at a press conference. “These budget decisions are among the toughest I have had to make in public service.”
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, a state-sponsored advisory body for issues dealing with higher education, will have its administrative budget cut 50 percent, or $1.5 million. The organization recommends policy to the governor and General Assembly about Virginia public colleges and universities.
Four higher education centers, which work in partnership with state schools to award degrees to non-traditionally aged students, will have their general operations budgets cut, with a proposed 15 percent reduction at each institution. This cut will save the state $1.3 million.
Other major cuts to Virginia higher education include a $19.8 million cut over two years to the Tuition Assistance Grant Program — reducing coverage to students eligible for financial aid — and the elimination of a $6.8 million program to attract well-known scholars to Virginia colleges and universities.
In his address, McDonnell called for a moratorium on cuts to higher education following this round of budget cuts, due to major cuts sustained by the institutions over the past several years
“I am calling for a restoration of some of the proposed cuts to public safety and no further cuts to higher education,” he said. “Public safety and higher education have been cut significantly in recent years and cannot sustain further reductions.”