Enhancing the student experience and preparing graduates for successful careers: Those are two of the key priorities in William & Mary’s budget for next year.

In line with William & Mary’s commitment to cost predictability for students and families, the Board of Visitors today approved new tuition rates for the next two years. The changes approved Friday will help offset the effects of inflation, which has risen 19.9% since fiscal year 2020 (FY20) according to the Consumer Price Index.

William & Mary kept in-state undergraduate tuition flat five of the past six years. That effort was one of the longest undertaken by any public university in the country to keep tuition flat since the COVID-19 pandemic. Out-of-state undergraduate tuition has been flat for four of six years.

“William & Mary is committed to keeping tuition as low as possible while still fulfilling our mission. Inflation has made that incredibly challenging, and we are strongly committed to increasing affordability,” said W&M President Katherine A. Rowe. “So, we spend wisely on what matters most to students and families. William & Mary provides an outstanding on-campus experience; we are rapidly evolving the curriculum in liberal arts and sciences toward what global citizenship and professional life require today. We prepare students to land at their next destination confidently.”

Budget priorities

For the next fiscal year, the university’s budget priorities include:

  • Enhancing the student experience – including health and wellness.
  • Expanding affordability through financial aid and Pell Grant initiatives.
  • Transitioning to a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. 
  • Advancing the housing and dining master plan.
  • Retaining faculty and staff talent through compensation increases.
  • Strengthening career services – one of four core initiatives of the Vision 2026 strategic plan. William & Mary’s successful efforts around supporting students and alumni in their professional paths were recently highlighted in new rankings.

Following a public hearing earlier this week, the board voted to raise undergraduate tuition for in-state students by 2.5% and for out-of-state students by 3.3% in fiscal years 2025 and 2026. The board approved tuition increases for graduate and professional schools in November.

Total cost – tuition, fees, room and board – will increase $1,792 (4.5%) in FY25 and $1,699 (4.1%) in FY26 for in-state undergraduate students. For out-of-state undergraduates, the total cost will increase by $2,725 (4.3%) in FY25 and $2,664 (4%) in FY26.

Those costs include fee increases of 3.56% in FY25 and 2.3% in FY26, driven by state-mandated salary and benefit increases, support for scholarships, contractual obligations and student health and wellness investments. An average room rate increase of 6% is expected each year, which is consistent with the housing and dining master plan, and dining’s all-access plan will go up 9.9% in FY25 and 6.1% in FY26. That change is part of the university’s contract with Aramark and addresses increasing labor and food costs.

Efficient use of resources

Approximately 80% of each tuition dollar directly supports academic and student services.

A graphic illustrates how tuition dollars are spent in fiscal year 2023 by showing a dollar bill segmented by costs.

Tuition is William & Mary’s largest revenue source, making up 46% of its current operating revenue. The university receives just 14% of its operating budget from the state.

William & Mary strives to spend wisely and on areas that matter most to students, with instruction being the largest expenditure for the current fiscal year. The second-largest expenditure is auxiliary services, which include dining, campus recreation, technology, health and wellness, housing and athletics among other services. Student aid is the university’s third-largest expenditure.

The university’s efficient use of resources is reflected in the difference between its high national ranking and its low financial resources ranking. When compared to the top 50 national universities listed by U.S. News & World Report, only one other university has a larger positive gap between its financial resources ranking and its overall ranking.

Affordability and aid

The university is committed to improving access and affordability and currently meets the full demonstrated need of in-state students through financial aid and scholarships. About 90% of need-based aid provided to undergraduates comes from the W&M, including donor funded scholarships.

Among public universities in Virginia, William & Mary offers the lowest net price after aid for in-state families earning $110,000 or less. In 2023, William & Mary’s net price was 43.2% below the Virginia public university average. A net price calculator is available on the university’s website to give students and families an estimate of the financial aid for eligible students who are applying as new, full-time undergraduate students.

On average, W&M offers the most generous financial aid from institutional sources of any Virginia public university. The average aid for in-state recipients in the 2022-2023 academic year was 4.8 times greater than the state average. In the 2023-2024 academic year, just over half of students applied for financial aid, with a third receiving need-based aid from the university.

In recent years, William & Mary has worked toward providing even more support for low-income, high-achieving students through such efforts as a commitment to cover the cost of tuition and fees for all in-state, undergraduate Pell Grant-eligible students, and the Commonwealth Impact Partnership Program and the Lighting the Way Scholarship for out-of-state students.

“Financial barriers should never prevent exceptional students from attending William & Mary and enjoying the lifelong benefits of earning their degree from this university,” said Jeremy P. Martin, vice president for strategy and innovation. “We are committed to providing students and their families with affordable pathways to a William & Mary degree – and to sustaining the quality of education driving our graduates’ remarkable success.”

, University News & Media