After three years of flat tuition rates, the VCU Board of Visitors voted last week to hike tuition by 3 percent for the 2022-23 academic year.
The board approved the tuition hike along with a $1.5 billion operating budget for the 2023 fiscal year. The university expects to make some cuts to the budget to address an anticipated funding shortfall, and a firm sense of what the budget will ultimately look like is dependent on the still in-process state budget.
With the tuition hike that takes effect this fall, an in-state undergraduate student enrolled in 15 credits a semester would pay about $15,600 in tuition and fees for the 2022-23 academic year, an increase of $524. Fees have also increased.
An out-of-state undergraduate student enrolled in 15 credits per semester would see tuition and fees increase by about $1,130 to a total of roughly $37,600.
The board also voted to increase housing rates by 5 percent.
University officials said the tuition hike is needed to help address salary increases for faculty and staff, student financial aid and other expenses that are now projected at $54.8 million in new expenditures for FY23.
For each dollar of new tuition funds, 46 cents will go toward salary increases and 37 cents will cover new and existing financial aid, with the remainder covering things like new faculty hires and inflation.
The state-mandated salary increases for faculty and staff account for $22 million, and the expectation is that VCU and the state will split the cost. Salary hikes in the budget include a 5 percent average merit increase for faculty and staff and a 5 percent increase for adjuncts.
VCU’s budget also includes $16 million to sustain current financial aid support and $3.2 million for additional undergraduate financial aid.
Even with the nearly $12 million in new revenue expected to be generated by the tuition bump, VCU CFO Karol Kain Gray said last week the university expects to have to close a budget gap of between $13.8 million and $21.6 million depending on how state funding shakes out.
In June, the Board of Visitors is expected to review the university budget and amend it in line with finalized state funding.
The university expects it will have to make cuts to close the anticipated gap, but what those cuts would be hasn’t been determined yet. VCU President Michael Rao said that without the tuition increase, the university would likely have to cut around 350 positions and increase class sizes to handle a projected shortfall.
The university has about 8,100 employees.
VCU doesn’t yet know what its fall 2022 enrollment will be, but a university spokesman said enrollment is expected to be flat compared to last fall. Fall 2021 enrollment was about 28,900 students, according to a university fact sheet posted to its website.
VCU has housing capacity for about 5,700 students this fall and doesn’t plan to set aside any beds for dedicated COVID-19 quarantine or isolation space.
A handful of students spoke in opposition to the tuition increase at the board meeting, saying it will place a further financial burden on them. About 640 responses to a survey related to the tuition increase and included in the meeting agenda materials were almost entirely against the tuition bump.
The tuition hike is on the low end of what had been on the table. Earlier this year, VCU officials discussed a tuition increase as high as 6 percent.