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The Blue & Gray Press | August 15, 2018

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Predicted tuition increase causes worry for students

Predicted tuition increase causes worry for students

By MILEN MEHARI 

Staff Writer

Recently the University of Mary Washington released the 2018-2019 estimated cost of attendance on the Financial Aid website, and the prices have appeared to increase.

Although the estimated cost is public, Lynne Richardson, the chief financial officer said, “they have not been considered by the Board of Visitors yet – they are on the agenda for the April Board meeting,” in an email interview.

For an in-state UMW student who chooses to live on campus in a double room and purchases a 150 meal plan, the tuition is estimated to increase by $919. This increase in tuition is not new, the university’s online archived records, which go back to 2012-2013, show that tuition has risen every year.

When asked about the most recent increase in tuition and fees, Richardson explained why the increase occurred.

“[The increase in tuition] will support university costs associated with mandated state changes in employee fringe benefits, operating cost increases in utilities, contracts, and leases, and a limited number of strategic initiatives.”

Tuition fees are increasing because the cost of university operations is increasing.  Richardson also mentioned the increase in boarding rates, approved in November 2017.

“[The increase in boarding rates] will support debit service costs associated with the renovation of Willard Hall,” where  pipes burst and have caused the building to be closed for two academic years, it is estimated to reopen Fall 2019.

Many students such as sophomore psychology major Chiann Todd feel that there are many issues associated with the tuition increases.  

“I think tuition increases are problematic, especially for students who can barely afford to attend college to begin with,” said Todd. She insists that if students are “going to continue to see a rise in tuition, then we need to see a rise in grants and scholarships given to students.”

Students also expressed the desire to be informed about the reasons behind the increased tuition.

“We aren’t told why tuition is being raised so there is no way for us to know what money is being allocated for or if it is something that us students would even support,” said Todd.

Infographic designed by Milen Mehari.

Saurabi Lamichhane, a junior biology and anthropology major, shared much of Todd’s sentiment.

“It is worrying that the administration has chosen not to announce their decision to increase tuitions and room and board for next year,” said Lamichhane.

While the University’s estimated 2018-2019 tuition is on the website, Lamichhane stated, “this is the first I’m hearing of this when the decision should’ve been announced when it was made.”

For first year students like anthropology major Katherine Toomey, an increase in tuition feels unexpected.

“One of the reasons I came to Mary Washington was because of its affordability but I’m worried that the tuition increases will make paying for college less feasible… I’d hate to have to move off campus because I can no longer afford to live here,” said Toomey.

There will be an open forum on the tuition and fees, led by President Paino, on Wednesday April 11 at 7 p.m. in the Magnolia Room at the University Center. Richardson stated that “at least one Board member is expected to be in attendance.”

The Board of Visitors are set to meet April 19-20 to vote on the tuition increases. The meetings are open to the public but there will not be an opportunity for public comment at these meetings.