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The Ever-Rising Cost of Tuition in Virginia

Paul Kurlak / Creative Commons

Ask voters what issues they are concerned about on the campaign trail, and one that comes up again and again is the cost of college debt. Michael Pope reports that’s because of a sharp increase in the cost of college.

Hold your wallet, folks. The cost of tuition at state colleges and universities has increased 71% over the last decade. 71 %. One reason for that is reduced funding from state government. Another is rising enrollment. Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University suspects competition for students plays a key role.

“It’s almost like an arms race. If you don’t have the best dorms, if you don’t have the best recreational facilities, if you don’t have all the technology that everybody else has in the classrooms, you risk losing students in that race to get students.”

Colleges and universities have to pay for all those upgraded dorms and recreational facilities and classroom technology. So they turn to out-of state students, who pay about twice as much in tuition as in-state students. State Senator Chap Petersen says that creates a burden on Virginia students who can’t get into schools strictly because the colleges and universities want those out-of-state tuition checks.

“These are state universities and once you get a certain critical mass of out of state students the General Assembly is going to step in and put restrictions on it. And I support that.”

Petersen says he plans on raising this issue when he returns to Richmond for the next General Assembly session.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.