West Virginia’s college students could end up fully paying for state budget cuts.
The Chancellor for West Virginia’s Community and Technical College system says their analysis shows students at those schools will have to pay hundreds of dollars more, in some cases, to make up for a requested 7.5% state budget cut.
Jim Skidmore estimates the average annual increase would vary from a low of 6.8% or $185 per student at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College to a high of 17.75% or $498 per student at Bridgemont Community and Technical College.
"The more students you have, you can spread it across those students," Chancellor Skidmore said. "So those smaller enrollment institutions are going to have to have a higher tuition rate in order to make up the reduction."
Skidmore presented the number to members of the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability Tuesday afternoon at the State Capitol.
Committee members had requested data about the impact on tuition if the reductions were passed on directly to students without any other cuts being made in higher education.
The annual average, per community and technical college student, would be $275 if only tuition increases are used.
At four year institutions in West Virginia, officials say the average increase would be close to that amount for in state students but much higher for out of state students.
Those schools would have to cut $19.3 million total from the institutional budgets for the 2014 Fiscal Year to comply with the proposed 7.5% reduction if only tuition increases are used to make that happen.
Higher Education Chancellor Dr. Paul Hill says, based on the number of students currently enrolled, the average tuition increase for in state students would be 4.8% or $261 more for each university student.
The smallest increase would be for 3.09% for in state students at West Virginia University up to 9.11% or $506 for in state students at WVU Tech.
"That would be the impact, again, if there are no other cost efficiencies, if there are no program cuts. It’s just strictly a mathematical calculation of what they would need to do if we rely totally on the tuition," Hill said.
For out of state students, the average tuition increase, statewide, would be $624. Some out of state students would pay less every year while others would pay more.
Dr. Hill says an increase of that size would not price West Virginia out of the market for students from outside of the state. "I don’t think there’s as big a concern there because our rates are fairly competitive, across the board," he said.
At this point, no final decisions have been made about what shape the budget cuts will take within higher education.
Higher ed officials have requested an exemption from the 7.5% budget reduction amount many state agencies are being asked to comply with for the 2014 Fiscal Year. Up to now, there has been no response from state officials on that.