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W&M Board of Visitors approves 2016-17 budget

Spending plan advances goals of the W&M Promise

The William & Mary Board of Visitors on Friday unanimously approved the university’s fiscal 2017 budget, including new initiatives designed to increase diversity on campus, continue to innovate in the liberal arts curriculum and improve W&M’s already strong retention and graduation rates.

The 2016-2017 budget also reflects new and ongoing support for commitments the university made as part of the 2013 adoption of the William & Mary Promise, including increasing the availability of financial aid, decreasing student debt for low- and middle-income Virginia families and providing additional support to recruit and retain superb faculty.

“In its first four years, the William & Mary Promise has been crucially important to the university’s financial ability to meet critical needs in faculty and staff compensation and in funding vital initiatives,” said President Taylor Reveley.

As part of the W&M Promise’s four-year tuition guarantee for in-state students, rates for Virginia students remain constant through all four years. Therefore, the adopted budget includes no tuition increases next year for rising in-state sophomores, juniors or seniors. In November, the Board set the four-year guaranteed tuition for incoming in-state freshman students at $15,674. By setting the in-state tuition rate in the fall, the Board provided Virginia families advance tuition information during the application period, when they were making critical academic decisions.

Out-of-state undergraduates will see a 2.9 percent increase in tuition in fiscal 2017 to $36,158.

“Predictability is important when planning for the cost of education and the William & Mary Promise assures Virginia’s students and their families that they will not face tuition increases over the course of their college careers,” said Rector Todd Stottlemyer. “The tuition they pay as freshmen is the tuition they pay as seniors.”

A key ambition of the W&M Promise operating model is to increase the availability of need-based financial aid for in-state students and improved affordability for low- and middle-income families across the Commonwealth, said Sam Jones, senior vice president for finance and budget.

William & Mary continues year-over-year increases in financial aid investment in the fiscal 2017 budget, adding an additional $2.7 million – or 8.7 percent – to the pool of available financial assistance for a total of $33.5 million. Since 2012, the year prior to the W&M Promise, the university has increased this fund by 49 percent and the university has more than doubled in-state grant aid. The availability of increased aid helps lower the annual borrowing and four-year cumulative debt average for Virginia undergraduates with demonstrated need. In addition to the ongoing investment approved in Friday’s budget, the university identified scholarships as the highest priority of William & Mary’s recently announced For the Bold fundraising campaign.

Other highlights of the budget approved Friday include:

  • $1.1 million over two years to enhance diversity efforts on campus. In fiscal 2017, $500,000 is dedicated to increasing faculty diversity, with an additional $100,000 investment in the Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity. W&M intends to match the initial funding in fiscal 2018 with an additional $500,000.
  • The fiscal 2017 budget includes an average 3 percent merit-based pool for faculty, professional and operational staff and a 3 percent increase for classified staff.
  • $325,000 to improve graduation and retention rates, which are already among the highest in the nation. W&M’s graduation rate, measured by the federal government as a six-year statistic (though the majority of W&M students graduate in four years) is 90 percent for the class that arrived in 2008. That’s approximately 30 points higher than the national average. William & Mary has the third-highest rates in the country among public universities for both graduation and retention, but the university is reaching higher. Earlier this year, Provost Michael R. Halleran formed a Working Group on Retention and Graduation, with goals to raise the graduation rate to 95 percent and the retention rate to 97 percent.
  • $126,000 to support the Center for the Liberal Arts, which was formed in 2014 to support and develop the new undergraduate general education College Curriculum, or COLL. Center for Liberal Arts Fellows are charged with supporting innovation in the new liberal arts curriculum. They work closely with faculty to create new courses, develop technological and pedagogical resources to support the new curriculum and work with student resource centers (including the Office of First-Year Experience, Tribe Tutor Zone and the Writing Resource Center) to ensure student success.