West Virginia: Tuition Continues to Increase Across WV Colleges Despite Budget Increases

"For the past several years, college officials have blamed the rising cost of tuition largely on severe budget cuts from state lawmakers," according to The State Journal. "Once again, most of the four-year colleges in the state are planning to increase the cost of tuition when students return to class in the fall, according to documents from the Higher Education Policy Commission, which is the state agency that oversees four-year institutions."

"Across the system, tuition will go up on average nearly 4 percent. That slightly outpaces the Higher Education Index, an inflation rate calculator separate from the general inflation rate that is used to track how expenses in higher education are changing nationally.

But unlike previous years, colleges across the state received budget increases when state lawmakers crafted the 2018-19 budget. Those increases were spawned in part thanks to the historic statewide teachers' strike.

Republican leaders came to a compromise to cave in to teachers' request for a 5 percent raise, and in turn decided to abandon budget increases for some programs and redistribute the money equitably to give all state employees the same raise. Since college employees are technically employees of the state, they, too, are meant to receive the 5 percent raise.

Numerous college officials across the board have worried though that since not all college salaries are paid for with money from the state's General Revenue Fund, the budget increases won't be enough to give everyone a raise without finding additional money elsewhere.

The highest tuition increase will be seen at West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Beckley, where students will have to pay 7.2 percent more. At West Virginia University, the state's flagship institution, students will pay 5.7 percent more.

Paula Congelio, WVU's vice president of finance, previously said the increase was needed to retain quality faculty, ensure cybersecurity, keep pace with inflation and enhance student services, among others."

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Publication Date: 6/12/2018

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