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Message on tuition and fees

President Taylor Reveley sent the following message to the campus community Saturday regarding next year's tuition and fees. -Ed

Dear William & Mary Community,

I write to tell you about tuition and fee decisions made earlier today by the College’s Board of Visitors.   

ReveleyThe decisions were made against this background: Our students and their families select William & Mary because of the extraordinary academic experience it provides. The challenge before us is how to sustain this exceptional educational opportunity -- and how to enable the university to remain a leader among liberal arts universities -- even as taxpayer support for higher education declines.  Since 2008, the state’s base funding for William & Mary has been cut four times, resulting in a 32% reduction in state support for our operating budget in just two years.  Over the last generation, state support for our operating budget has declined from over 43% to less than 13% by Fiscal Year 2012, when the full force of state cuts will be felt.

In response to this decline in state funding, William & Mary has taken serious steps to reduce costs.  We have cut operating and maintenance budgets across the university, eliminated positions, restricted hiring, and frozen salaries since November 2007.  While painful, these actions, when combined with a one-time allocation of federal stimulus dollars (which will be exhausted in Fiscal Year 2011), have enabled us to keep providing the extraordinary academic experience that our students and their families expect. 

Earlier today, the Board of Visitors took actions that will maintain a balanced operating budget for William & Mary in Fiscal Year 2011 (beginning July 1, 2010), protect current programs, and permit a few small steps forward.  To these ends, tuition and mandatory fees will increase $1,088, or 9.8%, for in-state undergraduates, and $2,500, or 8%, for out-of-state undergraduates.  Graduate and professional students will see similar increases.

These tuition increases will address pressing needs. It is crucial that a William & Mary education remain affordable for families with modest financial resources.  Thus, we will use part of the new tuition to increase our need-based financial aid for students.  Student financial aid at William & Mary has increased by 81% since Fiscal Year 2008.  Because the Commonwealth no longer provides support for the operation and maintenance of new academic facilities, another part of the tuition increase will go to fund the operating and maintenance costs of new facilities when they come on line during 2010/11, including a major building for the School of Education, the Sherman and Gloria Cohen Career Center, and the newly renovated and expanded Small Hall (the home of Physics). The rest of the new revenue will address increases in health insurance and critical staffing needs, including those devoted to raising private funds, information technology, financial reporting, emergency management, and career counseling.  The state has also required its colleges and universities to create a fund to help pay a 3% bonus for employees whose pay has been frozen for the last three years.  If state revenues recover sufficiently, the state will pay 35% of the bonus, with the College funding the other 65% from its own resources.

As taxpayer support of public colleges and universities declines across the country, state schools everywhere are being forced to transfer much of the cost of education to students and their families.  This has certainly been the case in Virginia.  The tuition and fees increases just voted by our Board of Visitors mirror those already adopted this spring by public colleges and universities across the Commonwealth.

The new reality is that William & Mary’s operating costs are paid by a public/private partnership in which the primary responsibility to fund the university now falls on the private side of the equation.  Thus we work these days with our private partners to sustain the College through earned income (tuition, fees, research grants, and contracts) and charitable income (annual giving, yield on endowment, gifts for bricks and mortar, and foundation grants).   In this new reality, it is William & Mary’s obligation to operate as efficiently and productively as we can while sustaining the intimate engagement of faculty with students that defines learning and research at this marvelous place.  William & Mary’s sort of engaged education is hugely valuable and exceedingly rare.   Our faculty, staff and students will do their best on campus to meet the challenges ahead while calling on parents, alumni and friends throughout Virginia and indeed the world to join fully in the effort.  If we pull together, we will succeed.

Taylor Reveley