BOV discusses budget cuts, rising tuition
April 19, 2011
Starting next fall, it will become more expensive to be a student at the College of William and Mary.
The total cost for a College undergraduate will increase by 5.5 percent for in-state students to $22,024. Out-of-state students will shoulder a 5.7 percent total cost increase, totaling $44,854. Tuition and fees alone will increase by 7.7 percent for in-state undergraduate students, and 6.5 percent for out-of-state undergraduate students.
“Fiscal year 2012 is going to be a bear,” College of William and Mary President Taylor Reveley said. “If we had gotten more state budget cuts this year, we really would have been up a creek … It is a wise and appropriate budget.”
The Board of Visitors approved the budget for the next academic year Friday in the wake of the termination of nearly $7 million in federal stimulus aid. Though state funding has been reduced 30 percent since 1980 and decreased by 1.5 percent this past year, no new cuts were approved for 2011-2012.
“We are working under constrained circumstances,” Reveley said. “These are not new cuts, but past stimulus dollars have made it longer for the College to absorb these cuts.”
A financial aid increase of $1.8 million within the College’s 2011-2012 budget seeks to counteract the blow from state budget cuts. This increase continues a trend building over the past three years, during which time financial aid has been augmented by $9.1 million, or 117 percent.
Recent legislation with the objective of “re-investing” in higher education has also attempted to alleviate the effects of the budget cuts. 2012 is the first year since 2007 that there are no new cuts in state funding and $900,000 in additional state funds were allocated toward the STEM program for science, technology, engineering and math education, finanical aid and enrollment growth.
“We have experienced $17.1 million in cuts since 2008. And we are getting back $900,000. You can see, with that comparison, what state we are in,” Reveley said. “It has been hard to get philanthropic effort going with tax revenues as they are.”
Taxpayer support for higher education has decreased by 2 percent since last year.
Other funding obstacles loom large on the horizon for the College, including a recently passed state bill that would cut an additional 10 million dollars from higher education.
“It is a brooding omnipresence,” Reveley said. “We don’t yet know when or if it will be imposed. One possibility might be that an increased state revenue might offset this.”
Reveley regarded the 4.75 percent spending rate of the College’s endowment fund as typical, but noted that more money was needed to maintain the balancing act of preserving funds for the future and using funds for the College’s current operations.
“It takes a hell of a lot of money to pull out an adequate amount of money for the College,” Reveley said. “We need $5 billion dollars for the endowment. We are pushing our annual giving and going to start up a fundraising campaign.”
Ten percent of the College’s operating funds come from private sources. Reveley noted that most of the College endowment funds are restricted funds.
“We need to change the relationship of our alumni from feeling proud, to taking ownership,” new Rector of the College Jeffrey Trammell ’73 said. “We want to be like a private university, and by 2013, increase our annual giving to 30 percent, where right now it is at 23 percent.”
In regard to potential applicants to the College, Reveley did not anticipate a change in numbers.
“They need to know that there is no free lunch,” Reveley said. “Tuition increases are not going to stop. They need to ask themselves if financial aid and campus life provide them with enough to go here.”
Trammell asked applicants to consider the College’s cost versus those of the College’s peer universities.
The University of Virginia’s total cost will increase by 8.9 percent. Georgetown University will experience an overall 2.8 increase in total cost for undergraduate students, and a 10 percent increase in financial aid. The total cost of Duke University for undergraduates will increase by 3.9 percent.
“They charge two to three times as much as we do,” Trammell said. “We offer a comparatively valuable education.”
“Obviously, as an out-of-state student, I am angry with the tuition increases,” former Student Assembly President Chrissy Scott ’11 said. “No one wants to see tuition increases: the students don’t want to see them, Reveley doesn’t want to see them, the Board of Visitors doesn’t want to see them … but the money that the state is cutting makes it necessary. We need students to help out with fundraising efforts. I want more students to care about the BOV.”
According to the State Council for Higher Education, the nationwide average college tuition is $22,979. Undergraduate tuition at the College for in-state students will be $955 below this average in the next academic year.
Reveley was not optimistic about future budgets.
“I’m doubtful that state support will increase when I think about big, unpredictable health care costs, transportation costs and retirement systems,” Reveley said. “The key issue is that the state will not have enough funds that would begin to offset recent budget cuts.”