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Board extends W&M Promise and four-year tuition guarantee

  • Tuition decision:
    Tuition decision:  Next year’s entering in-state freshmen and undergraduate transfers will see a 5.4 percent increase, or 1.31 percent if annualized over four years, compared to the class that entered in fall 2018. Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors will see no increase in tuition.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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Returning in-state students to see zero increase in tuition

William & Mary’s Board of Visitors voted unanimously on Friday to extend the university’s four-year tuition guarantee for in-state undergraduates and set tuition for new in-state undergraduate students arriving in fall of 2019. Returning in-state undergraduates will see zero increase in tuition.

The William & Mary Promise, adopted in 2013, guarantees the tuition rate in-student students pay across their four years of undergraduate study. Next year’s entering in-state freshmen and undergraduate transfers will see a 5.4 percent increase, or 1.31 percent if annualized over four years, compared to the class that entered in fall 2018. Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors will see no increase in tuition.

“We are acutely aware of the impact to students and families of the growing cost of higher education. At William & Mary, we have utilized the Promise to ensure that a student’s net cost remains as low as possible and is predictable for incoming students,” said Rector John Littel P’22. “In doing so with a four-year guarantee, the university takes on the inflation risk rather than Virginia families. At the same time, among Virginia public universities, William & Mary now offers the second-lowest net price for in-state students from families with income of $75,000 or less.”

Friday’s vote follows a number of community outreach efforts by the Board and the administration to discuss the proposed increase and the university’s budget outlook, including a public hearing last month on the proposed change. The W&M Board established a practice of setting undergraduate in-state tuition at its November meeting to provide prospective Virginia students and families advance notice as they consider college options.

In September, the Board voted unanimously to reduce the projected tuition and fee increase the university submits to the state as part of its six-year plan. Consistent with that plan, the new tuition rate for in-state students entering in fall 2019 will be $18,375 and will be guaranteed not to change.

In his presentation to the Board on Friday, Sam Jones, senior vice president for budget and finance, said revenue generated from this tuition increase, in combination with other revenues and reallocated funds, will be used to address personnel costs, including the university's share of any state-mandated increases in salaries, fringe and health benefit changes, need-based financial aid and institutional initiatives.

William & Mary continues to invest more resources, year over year, toward financial aid. The university is also making progress on increasing socio-economic diversity on campus. Over the past six years, W&M has increased its undergraduate grant aid budget by 156 percent for a total of $29.2 million in FY19.

Since the adoption of the Promise, W&M has also dropped its average net price — the actual out-of-pocket costs after financial aid and scholarships are factored in — for most Virginia students who qualify for aid. In addition to net price, W&M is also the only public university in Virginia that has replaced all loans with grants for in-state students with family incomes under $40,000. W&M is currently meeting the entire financial need of Virginia students.

William & Mary continues to rank high nationally when it comes to loan default rate and graduation rates, also factors in considering cost and value. W&M graduates have a loan default rate of 1 percent – the lowest loan default rate of any public university in the country. The university also has the lowest faculty-to-student ratio of top-ranked public universities and the second-highest graduation rate among all public universities in the nation.

While William & Mary has committed more resources toward financial aid, officials added that private support toward scholarships also remains a critical piece to the university’s financial model. The top priority of the For The Bold  fundraising campaign is to raise $350 million in private scholarship support for all W&M students.

“William & Mary provides a high-touch, high results academic model that focuses on a personalized educational experience,” said W&M President Katherine A. Rowe. “It is essential that we ensure that experience remains accessible to students with financial need and that families paying full cost have this information well in advance so they understand the value they are receiving and can consider all factors when making these important decisions.”

Tuition for all other student groups (out of state undergraduates, graduate and professional), as well as mandatory fees for all students, will be set by the Board at its April 2019 board meeting. A public hearing session will also occur in the spring prior to this meeting.