Rector Todd Stottlemyer ’85 and President Taylor Reveley published the following Op-Ed on May 26, 2016, in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. - Ed.
Recently concerns have arisen about a decision made six months ago, last November, by William & Mary’s Board of Visitors. Important facts were missed.
In 2013, the Board of Visitors approved a comprehensive, multi-year 10-point plan, known as the William & Mary Promise, to provide tuition predictability for in-state students, affordability to Virginia’s low- and middle-income families through greater financial aid, and expanded access by increasing in-state undergraduate enrollment. We also made important commitments around business innovation, academic quality and productivity, a robust merit pay system for faculty compensation, and increasing the enrollment of first-generation college students.
We did not choose the word “Promise” casually. We meant it. We are keeping the Promise we made in 2013.
Under the W&M Promise, our tuition model is unlike that of any other public institution in Virginia. We set tuition for entering in-state undergraduates and guarantee that rate for the duration of their four years in college. Other institutions set tuition for all students each spring, meaning their students don’t know how much tuition they will pay to earn their degree. That is not true at William & Mary. The tuition cost is fixed for four years, with no increases along the way.
William & Mary is also committed to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of all Virginians, so that limited means will not prevent a student from attending.
In keeping our Promise, William & Mary’s rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors from Virginia will see no increase in their tuition. That’s zero percent increase for three-quarters of our in-state student body. Not one cent more in tuition for all continuing in-state undergraduates.
William & Mary freshmen enrolling in fall 2016 will pay tuition 12% higher than the class that entered the prior year. Rather than limit the tuition increase to the 2016-2017 academic year – that was what the state asked of its public institutions – William & Mary has limited it for the next four years for our Class of 2020. Their tuition will not increase through their senior year. Not one cent more in tuition increases for the next four years.
Since our Board of Visitors set tuition last November, students applied to William & Mary knowing what it would be. We had a record number of in-state applicants for the Class of 2020 and will, as usual, enroll a compellingly able group of freshmen.
In keeping our Promise, William & Mary has remained affordable for Virginians through generous financial aid. According to the U.S. Department of Education, our “net price” after aid for in-state students is the third-lowest of any public university in Virginia. Only Norfolk State and UVA-Wise are lower.
For William & Mary students from families earning less than $110,000 and demonstrating financial need, our net price actually declined under the W&M Promise. And the percentage of our graduates with student debt has declined to 39% compared to a statewide average of 59%. Importantly, more than 60% of our graduates leave William & Mary with no education loans.
Even more important, William & Mary makes available to our students one of the very best undergraduate educations in the United States. Indeed, according to U.S. News & World Report, William & Mary provides the best undergraduate teaching of any public university in America. Only Princeton, Dartmouth, and Brown are ranked higher in this category. These universities charge tuition nearly three times that of William & Mary.
William & Mary’s commitment to our students, their families, and the Commonwealth is to provide a magnificent undergraduate education while remaining one of the best values in American higher education for our in-state students. This is precisely what we are doing under the W&M Promise.
Todd Stottlemyer, Rector
Taylor Reveley, President