The William & Mary Board of Visitors voted to hold undergraduate tuition flat for the coming year during a May 19 meeting of their Executive Committee, the fifth straight year with no increase for in-state undergraduate students at the university.
“The General Assembly is still working to finalize the state budget, yet we know it is important for our students and their families, as well as for our own programs, to have clarity on tuition now so they may better plan,” said Rector John E. Littel. “William & Mary is holding tuition flat again this year despite significant financial challenges and critical needs. We understand the strain our students and their families are going through.”
In the university’s six-year plan, William & Mary’s projected tuition increase was 4.6% for FY23. At Thursday’s meeting, the administration modeled a 3% increase as well as a scenario with a zero increase for all students. Given numerous economic factors – including expected increases in state funding for higher education, the ongoing economic impacts of the pandemic and rising inflation – the Board voted Thursday on a zero increase. Additionally, the Board authorized President Katherine A. Rowe and the administration to make spending adjustments as necessary to balance the budget without additional revenue from a tuition increase.
“As we seek to balance the budget, we always think first about supporting our people,” Rowe said. “Providing a thriving and competitive workplace and advancing our mission remain critical goals moving forward. At the same time, with today’s economic challenges we understand the importance of limiting the financial impact for families. Re-engagement in higher education funding by the state in recent years has proved invaluable during pandemic. We look forward to continued partnership.”
Included in the budget is an investment in additional financial aid. Since FY13, the university has increased undergraduate need-based financial aid from $17.7 to $46 million. Thanks to the investment in aid, William & Mary continues to offer the lowest average personal net price – on weighted average – among all four-year public universities in Virginia for families earning $110,000 or less. Net price reflects what is actually paid or borrowed by a family after receiving grant aid.
“William & Mary’s commitments to access and affordability remain a priority,” said Amy Sebring, chief operating officer. “With that focus we have been able to reduce the average undergraduate student debt by 10% over the last three years.”
Thursday’s Board action authorized a compensation pool for merit increases for salaried, university employees, though any increase remains dependent on state action, Sebring emphasized. In previous budget proposals, state leaders indicated a 5%, on average, increase. Typically, the General Assembly provides the “state share” for salary actions with the expectation that the university covers the rest through tuition and fee revenue. At 5%, W&M estimates that the Commonwealth will provide $3.2 million of additional salary costs with the university expected to cover the remaining $6.5 million, or two-thirds. In her presentation, Sebring also modeled a minimum wage increase to $15.50. Final details will be determined as the FY23 budget is finalized and the funding gap is closed, she said.
Additionally, the Board’s budget actions did include a 2.5% increase in fees for all students, and a 2.5% room increase for residential students. Student fees support auxiliary enterprises which receive no state operating funds. Utilizing reserves generated in FY22, the Board voted to hold dining fees flat and approved additional dining plan flexibility targeted at on-campus residents.
In addition to all undergraduates, including in-state and out-of-state students, most graduate programs, including Arts & Sciences, Marine Science and Education, will also see zero increase in tuition. In February, the Board approved a requested market adjustment in tuition for the William & Mary Law School. Program specific changes and other market adjustments are included in the Board’s resolution.
In other action, the Board completed its annual personnel evaluation of the president, which included dispersing the portion of her compensation package tied to performance. The Board voted unanimously last year to extend Rowe’s contract.
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