The cost to attend Virginia State University will increase 5% this fall, the result of a $500 hike to the school’s technology fee. But the cost of tuition, which is the most affordable in the state, will remain the same.
VSU will charge roughly $9,700 in tuition and fees next school year. Students who live on campus will pay a total of $21,000 annually.
Facing increased salary and utility costs, colleges across Virginia are considering increasing the price to attend school. But Gov. Glenn Youngkin has called on them to leave the price of tuition unchanged.
The VSU technology fee, which jumped from $229 to $729, will cover upgrades to computers and other devices on campus and computer stipends for students, said Gwen Williams Dandridge, a spokesperson for the school. In 2020, when college education became increasingly virtual, VSU offered $500 stipends to students to pay for computers and other devices.
“The technology fee increase was a necessity,” Dandridge said. “We received positive feedback from our students on the increase as they support and are directly impacted by the need for upgraded technology in the classrooms, dorm rooms and throughout campus.”
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Colleges are required to use technology fee revenue on technology costs — they aren’t allowed to raise the fee and use it to increase faculty salaries.
VSU, which has about 4,000 students, is expected to grow its enrollment next fall, though a projected figure hasn’t been determined yet. The university expects to spend $6 million in new technology costs, employee pay increases and utility rate hikes.
It also plans to spend $13.7 million to buy property around the Multi-Purpose Center at the edge of campus and $35 million on an addition to Foster Hall, the school’s student union. Some unspent federal emergency aid received last year will be used toward the project.
“We continue to embrace our position as an access and opportunity university,” Dandridge said. “Keeping our tuition flat again this year allows us to continue to provide unparalleled access to a quality and cost-effective education at Virginia State University.”
Though Youngkin last week asked schools to keep tuition flat, some had already decided to raise their prices. The University of Virginia announced a 4.7% hike in December, and James Madison University settled on a 4.1% jump last month. JMU students will now pay $13,200 in tuition and mandatory fees.
After Youngkin’s request, the board at Virginia Commonwealth University voted for a 3% increase.
State leaders haven’t agreed on a budget yet, and colleges are waiting to find out how much funding they’ll receive. Given the uncertainty, some schools have delayed their decisions on tuition. Virginia Tech will wait until June — it’s considering a range of options, from keeping tuition flat to raising it 4.9%.
The board at the College of William & Mary is scheduled to meet this week — it may keep tuition flat or raise it as high as 4.6%.