Capping quality: Lawmakers must rethink out-of-state quota

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September 26, 2011

9:05 PM

Along with the rest of the country, the College of William and Mary has hit a bit of a rough patch in the current economic climate. When the Board of Visitors met last Thursday to discuss strategies to balance the budget, the hot topic was how to get the money necessary for the College to continue to operate, as well as how to give faculty their promised raises.

Our faculty has gone without pay raises for three years. Without a salary increase on the horizon, professors have no incentive to remain with the school. The College touts itself as a public Ivy; in order to meet the expectations of that title, we need a stellar faculty.

One suggestion made included raising in-state tuition by 5 percent, a plan that would simply be unable to raise enough extra money. According to the College’s website, undergraduate tuition for an in-state student amounts to $6,566 a semester. In comparison, out-of-state tuition per semester is nearly three times as much at $17,981.

An equal out-of-state increase of 5 percent would be closer to the mark, but I believe the amount of revenue generated from such an increase would not allow the College to remain as competitive on a national level.

The most logical suggestion in my opinion is to not only raise the tuition of out-of-state students, but also raise the state mandated maximum percentage of out-of-state students from 35 percent to at least 40 percent. In order to move on successfully, the College needs to look at how it can to make a top-tier education available to as many people as possible. This means looking beyond the borders of Virginia.

Although tuition would be slightly higher for the out-of-state demographic, there are many benefits to accepting more out-of-state students. College funding would increase significantly, allowing us to hire and maintain the best possible staff, retain the small campus atmosphere and be innovators in the pursuit of higher education.

Because of these perks, I believe that we would actually see an increase in the number of applicants to the College even with the slight increase in tuition. Forbes just this year named us the fifth-best public college in the country. I think we can remain competitive with a slight tuition increase.

Astoundingly, some lawmakers want to lower the out-of-state student cap to appease Virginia voters. This would lead to a further reduction of the College’s funding, and, I believe, a decrease in the quality of academics, as well as a likely increase in tuition across the board. The situation would be a lose-lose for in-state and out-of-state students alike. Lawmakers need to seriously re-examine the limits they have imposed on the quality of education within the state with the cap; the very future of higher education in Virginia depends on it.

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