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The Blue & Gray Press | October 23, 2017

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Tuition, room and board expected to rise for students next semester

Tuition, room and board expected to rise for students next semester

By EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH

An increase in tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students at the University of Mary Washington among other expenses is projected to take place at the beginning of the 2016-2017 fiscal year, according to an announcement made by Paul Messplay, executive director of budget financial analysis and Rick Pearce, vice president for administration and finance.

Messplay and Pearce made the announcement to UMW students with a presentation given to members of the Student Government Association during a meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

According to the presentation, which overviewed the budget for the next fiscal year beginning on July 1, tuition is projected to increase by 3.3 percent for in-state and out-of-state students. For in- state students, this will mean paying an additional $364 for tuition. Out-of-state students would pay an additional $616.

As of the 2015-2016 fiscal year, tuition for in-state students is $20,764 per year. For out-of-state students, the total is $34,928. Commuting students pay an estimated $11,070 each year in tuition. These numbers reflect students who enroll full time.

There will also be a 2.5 percent increase, or between $132 to $206, for room and board in residence housing. Additionally, there will be a 3 percent increase, or between $228 to $278 in the amount paid for room and board in the UMW apartments and Eagle Landing.

All meal plan prices, with the exception of the Anytime Meal Plan will also increase by 2.5 percent. There was no recommendation to raise the prices on the Anytime Meal Plan, according to Messplay.

While the rate of tuition is still under discussion, according to Messplay, the increase for room and board and meal plans were already decided at a Board of Visitors meeting in November, according to Messplay and Pearce in an email.

The rise in tuition and other expenses is due to a decline in out-of-state students that has occurred over the past decade, according to Pearce and Messplay. They also cited a decline in state support to the university. According to Pearce and Messplay, 49 percent of the university’s revenue is supplied by student tuition.

There have been three employees hired by the University in accordance with Title IX laws, which Messplay and Pearce also cited as a decision in the proposed budget.

The state also does not support auxiliary enterprise costs, which includes housing, dining, recreation centers or the athletics programs. The cost for these programs, according to Pearce and Messplay, comes directly from student room and board fees and Auxiliary Comp fees.

One aspect of the auxiliary cost is the University Center, which opened in late August and had an estimated budget of a little under $56 million, according to Pearce.

A similar raise in prices occurred in the 2015-2016 fiscal budget, which increased tuition and room and board by a combined 5.5 percent, raising the cost for a full-time in-state student who lives in university housing from $19,682 to $20,764.

According to Messplay and Pearce in an email, there are no budget cuts currently projected for the next fiscal year, though some may be possible. However, Messplay and Pearce said the budget would utilize three broad options: increase tuition and fees, implement reductions in budget or some combination of tuition increase and budget cuts.

“It is still too early in the budget process to identify any real specifics regarding next year’s budget or tuition and fees,” Messplay and Pearce said.

Several members of the SGA asked questions and offered suggestions during the meeting. A few students asked how salaries were distributed among members of the UMW administration and if there was a way to compare these costs with other administration members with colleges in the state of Virginia.

According to Pearce, the University does not have a clear definition of what constitutes an administrator. Because of this, Pearce said that they would not be able to create a comprehensive list of members, and comparing administration members to other schools who may have different rules or positions would not be feasible. According to Messplay and Pearce in an email, the meeting with the BOV focused more on administrative members alone rather than comparing administrative salaries.

“The broader issue seemed to be defining what personnel, programs and services should or should not be identified as ‘administration,’” Messplay and Pearce said. “There are no current plans to pursue this question further.”

Alex Obolensky, vice president of the Student Government Association who was present at the meeting, said in an email that the meeting energized the association to examine the budget for the university more closely.

“Given that the cost increase has been consistently growing yearly now, from 3.8 percent in 2013-2014 to 5.2, and now 5.8 – including room and board with tuition and fees – students have a right to know how much of their student tuition is spent pushing paper around,” Obolensky said. Obolensky also said it was a concern that there was no precise definition for administrators and a clear way to categorize salaries.

“It was very concerning during the course of the meeting that the Department of Administration and Finance cannot even define who is an administrator,” Obolensky said. “Failing even to calculate the balance between tuition spent on bureaucracy and tuition spent on actually serving the students is a glaring oversight.”

Obolensky plans to form an ad hoc committee in the senate this semester to investigate these rising costs and its projected spending. In addition, Obolensky said the SGA expects to pass a number of motions that address what students learned at the meeting.

Pearce and Messplay plan to meet with the Board of Visitors and discuss the budget, which will ultimately be finalized during their meeting in May. In the meantime, Messplay and Pearce said that they plan to hold more forums in the spring as the budget continues to take shape for the next fiscal year.

In the original article, Alex Obolensky was incorrectly titled as president of SGA. Hannah Tibbett is SGA president and Obolensky vice president. We are very sorry for the error and have corrected it above. – Emily Hollingsworth, news editor.