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UMW board considers increasing tuition, fees

by Elizabeth Liverman | Feb 22, 2016 - February 18, 2016

The University of Mary Washington’s board of visitors discussed possible tuition increases at its meeting Thursday.

The board expects to vote on the school’s budget and tuition in May, but was presented with budget scenarios and information on the proposed state budget, which the General Assembly has not yet approved.

Activist group UMW Students United, which calls for accountability of the school’s governing body and is concerned about student debt, sat in on the board of visitors meeting. The group sent a list of demands to the board, asking school officials to hold off on proposed tuition hikes, create a student–faculty budget oversight committee and a transparent way for students to comment on budget matters.

UMW has a $111 million operating budget. About half of that money comes from tuition and fees. Money from the state funds 21 percent of the budget, and room and board covers 17 percent.

UMW Chief Financial Officer Rick Pearce said Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposed state budget offers more than $500,000 to support about $2.1 million in mandated cost increases.

One funding scenario presented to the board increases tuition 1.8 percent for the 2016–17 academic year. In-state tuition would increase from $7,716 to $7,853, and auxiliary fees would increase 6.8 percent.

“This very well could change,” Pearce said. “This is a preliminary overview.”

Room and board rates have already been set for 2016–17. Both were increased by 2.5 percent.

“When I see this, it seems as if [tuition] is the only way we can get to the point we need to be,” board member Edd Houck said. He went on to ask for additional funding scenarios, using savings rather than tuition increases to cover costs.

“I hope we don’t find ourselves in the position that it’s tuition or nothing,” he said. “Tuition should be the last resort.”

President Rick Hurley said UMW is trying to make up for five years of budget cuts, and additional cuts would be hard to make.

“It gives me heartburn,” he said. “It would be hard to cut this lean machine further.”

The board also heard an update on the Mary Washington First campaign, the $50 million fundraising campaign set to end this summer. To date, the campaign has raised $45.5 million, representing 91 percent of the goal and creating 90 new scholarships.

The campaign is on track for completion by the end of June, said Torre Meringolo, vice president for advancement and university relations.

The board also approved a contract for new president Troy Paino, but details of the contract were not released Thursday.

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