Virginia Tech Board of Visitors votes to increase tuition

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 4:18 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2021 at 11:05 PM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ/Virginia Tech Release) - The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors has set tuition and fees for the 2021-22 academic year, and an increase is on the way.

After two years of a tuition freeze that held the in-state undergraduate tuition rate level for three years in a row, and an out-of-state undergraduate tuition freeze last year that held that tuition level two years in a row, the board has approved a 2.9 percent increase in tuition for resident and non-resident undergraduate students for 2021-22.

“Each and every board member takes the responsibility of setting tuition and mandatory fees extremely seriously,” said Ed Baine, chair of the Finance and Resource Management Committee. “It is very difficult to balance access and affordability to the students and families who must bear this cost with preserving the quality of a Virginia Tech degree and investing in world-class faculty and campus programs. I believe today’s decision, though very challenging, strikes that balance.”

“It is important for the board to support Virginia Tech’s strategic priorities and strengthen its stature as a leading global land-grant research university,” said board member Rector Horacio Valeiras. “It is also critical to our success that we make a Virginia Tech education accessible to all students, regardless of their economic circumstances.”

Tuition and mandatory fees for Virginia undergraduate students will increase $426, to $14,175 annually, and out-of-state undergraduate tuition and mandatory fees will increase $964, totaling $33,857 annually. That includes a $90 increase in the comprehensive fee.

Annual room and board charges will increase by 3.3 percent, or $320 per year, to a total of $9,876.

In addition, for the first time, the board approved a Graduate Candidacy Status discounted tuition rate for Ph.D. students who have completed their preliminary exam and are engaged solely in research and dissertation work. These students will receive a 10 percent tuition discount for up to two years to incentivize faster time-to-degree time periods.

To offset increases and to support low- and middle-income families who seek a Virginia Tech education, the university will allocate about $2.7 million in additional resources toward undergraduate financial aid programs next year, raising the total institutional support to more than $35.5 million for 2021-22.

“The demand for a Virginia Tech degree is greater than it has ever been, but we will do everything we can to keep costs down and provide an affordable, high-quality education for Virginia residents,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “Over the period of six years through the 2021-22 academic year, the university will have kept tuition rate growth at or below inflation as measured by the consumer price index. Combined with increased financial aid, our commitment to make Virginia Tech accessible has never been stronger.”

The university’s Presidential Scholarship Initiative will once again provide full four-year scholarships to 85 incoming Virginia students next year, supporting a total program of 327 students.

Including university-funded support, Virginia Tech undergraduates received $137.9 million in grants and scholarships last fiscal year, according to Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech will continue to discount undergraduate tuition by 10 percent during the summer session and winter session courses in Blacksburg to help students complete degrees at an accelerated pace during nontraditional times.

When adding tuition and mandatory fees with room and board costs, the total cost in 2021-22 for a Virginia undergraduate student living on campus will be $24,051, while the total cost of an out-of-state undergraduate living on campus will be $43,733. Virginia Tech ranks tenth of the 15 Virginia public universities in terms of total overall cost for resident undergraduate students.

Tuition and mandatory fees for in-state graduate students will rise by $492 to $16,522 and for out-of-state graduate students by $896 to $31,443.

“You don’t get a say in it; it’s you either pay it or you don’t,” freshman Jacob Gehrt said. He compared it to being stuck between a rock and a hard place. “We need [a degree] to be successful and the university dictates the price so we can either pay it or find another path.”

It’s a decision that was taken with careful consideration by the board of visitors Monday.

“They encourage the university to take that money and invest it in very important areas, among which is the retention of students who may have difficulties paying for college,” university spokesperson Mark Owczarski said. “We have to strike that balance between affordability and value. We hope today we hit that sweet spot and empower more students to come to Virginia Tech than ever before.”

Everyone has been hit by COVID in one way or another. Karra Johnson is feeling the impact at a part time job helping to pay for school.

“We can only utilize half of the restaurant so I’ve been making half of how much I normally bring in and then the tuition increase is just kind of another nail in the head,” Johnson said.

The tuition increase is not enough to stop students from coming back.

“I wouldn’t discourage you from coming here because of the tuition increase because it’ll happen anywhere,” Gehrt said.

The school is committing $2.7 million in additional support for financial aid to help offset this increase. There’s also a program for students whose families make $100,000 or less annually that guarantees their fees won’t go up.

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