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UMW increases tuition 4.5 percent

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RICHMOND—Gov. Bob McDonnell urged state colleges and universities to hold the line on tuition increases Thursday—the same day the University of Mary Washington’s board of visitors voted for a 4.5 percent tuition increase for this fall.

In a letter to college presidents, McDonnell asked them to limit increases to rate of inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index.

He made the same request almost exactly a year ago, and tuition increased an average of 4.1 percent—the lowest increase in a decade, McDonnell said in this year’s letter.

Meanwhile, UMW’s board of visitors voted Thursday to approve a 4.5 percent tuition and fee increase for all students. The board had already agreed to increase housing costs by 4 percent and board costs, which cover meal plans, by 2 percent.

Thursday’s decision means in-state students will pay $18,782 for tuition, fees, room and board—or $696 more than in 2012–13. Out-of-state students will pay $31,652, or $1,252 more.

In-state students who don’t need room and board will pay $9,660, or $414 more than in 2012–13. Out-of-state students who don’t need room and board will be charged $22,530, or $970 more. Last year, the board approved a 4.7 percent tuition increase for in-state students and 4.8 percent for out-of-state students.

During a meeting earlier this month with the board of visitors’ administration, finance and facilities committee, UMW Interim Provost Ian Newbould said tuition increases were a direct response to cuts in state higher education funding.

“The shift in the cost of education is from state to student,” Newbould said then. “There’s no way around it.”

Colleges throughout Virginia have raised tuition in recent years after suffering state budget cuts, which were themselves a result of the recession. State lawmakers are increasingly expressing worry that a college education is becoming unaffordable. McDonnell said he and state lawmakers have been working to budget more money for higher education, with the understanding that colleges would hold down tuition increases. He said he understands colleges are still recovering from the recession and may be facing budget cuts due to the federal sequestration budget issues.

“Too many students graduate from college with significant debt, making the high cost of a college education both a deterrent to further study and a financial burden,” he said in the letter. “Our shared commitment to moderating tuition increases will help make higher education more affordable and more accessible for Virginia students and their families.”

Staff writer Jeff Branscome contributed to this report.

Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028