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Board adopts 2020-21 tuition for entering in-state undergrads

Editor's note: The W&M Board of Visitors unanimously voted May 12, 2020, to roll back a previously adopted tuition increase for incoming in-state undergraduates and keep tuition and mandatory fees flat for all students, including in-state and out-of-state undergraduates, graduate and professional students. According to the budget resolution, the tuition and fee rates adopted by the Board are for the upcoming 2020-21 academic year. It reverses action taken by the Board in the fall, which included for a 3% tuition increase for new in-state undergraduates, in accordance with the university’s six-year plan. That plan, which was adopted in September, called for in-state undergraduate tuition increases of up to 3% each year. Going forward, the intent is that the Board will revisit future tuition recommendations in advance of the 2021-22 academic year.

William & Mary’s Board of Visitors voted unanimously on Friday to set tuition for new in-state undergraduate students arriving in fall of 2020. Returning in-state undergraduates will see zero increase in tuition. 

Next year’s tuition rate for entering in-state freshmen and undergraduate transfers will be $17,957, a 3% increase compared to the class that entered in fall 2019. Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors from Virginia will see no increase in tuition. Tuition for out-of-state undergraduates and graduate students, as well as all mandatory fees, will be determined at the board’s April 2020 meeting. 

Friday’s action is consistent with the university’s six-year plan, which was unanimously endorsed by the board and submitted to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia in September. The plan is designed to reduce the rate of growth in tuition, maintain predictability and simplify the planning process for Virginia families. 

Specifically, the plan outlines modifications to the William & Mary Promise, the university’s tuition model adopted in 2013, which will maintain predictability but enhance affordability, said Sam Jones, senior vice president for finance and administration. For future entering classes of in-state students, the modified Promise is intended to limit annual tuition increases for in-state undergraduates to no more than 3%. Previously, the university reset tuition for each entering class — historically at a higher rate than 3% — and guaranteed that rate for four years. Continuing in-state undergraduate students here under the previous iteration of the W&M Promise will continue to see no increase in tuition.  

Friday’s vote follows a number of community outreach efforts by the board and the administration to discuss the proposed tuition changes and the university’s budget outlook, including a public hearing last month. 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. 

Among other things, revenue generated from the increase will go toward additional need-based financial aid. Since the adoption of the W&M Promise, the university has devoted significantly more resources toward financial aid. Since 2013, William & Mary has increased in-state undergraduate financial aid by 132% and has reduced the “net price” for low- and middle-income Virginians with need. According to the most recent data by the U.S. Department of Education, W&M is the least expensive public university in Virginia, on an average net-price basis, for in-state families at income levels less than $110,000. The university is currently the fourth lowest on a net-price basis across all income levels. Private support toward scholarships also remains a critical piece of the financial model. The top priority of the For The Bold fundraising campaign is private scholarship support, and to date more than 500 scholarships have been created to support all W&M students. 

A second public hearing will be held in the spring in advance of the board’s April 2020 meeting in which it will consider tuition for all other student groups (out-of-state undergraduates, graduate and professional), as well as mandatory fees for all students.