CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission has given final approval to a handful of colleges and universities to raise tuition and fees next fall.
The commission’s vote came Tuesday with two members, Secretary of Education and the Arts Kay Goodwin and state School Superintendent Dr. Jim Phares, voting against the increases.
Goodwin said her vote was more about the students and their parents than the schools, like WVU, who are cutting their budgets and looking at ways to raise revenue.
“I’m not so worried about them (the universities) as I am worried about the students, their families and their loans,” Goodwin said.
The Tomblin administration cabinet secretary predicted some grave days ahead for some schools if the student debt issue isn’t resolved.
“I think that in the very near future we’re going to see some of those very institutions failing because of their student loan default rate,” Secretary Goodwin said. “And I think we only add to the problem when we increase tuition.”
The average increase is nearly $400.
Outgoing HEPC Dave Hendrickson said he hates raising tuition and fees, but at this time, with state funding on the decrease, it can’t be helped.
“It’s very difficult to balance the budgets of the institutions,” Hendrickson said. “I gotta tell ya there’s not any fluff in any of these budgets. It’s really tight across all of the campuses.
Hendrickson, incoming chairman Bruce Berry, commission member Kathy Eddy and others met with the representatives of the institutions for 10 hours Monday and Tuesday going over their budgets. Berry said for the first time he felt he wasn’t getting just a “boiler plate” presentation.
“They could show the areas of financial problems. They made a very compelling argument this year,” Berry said.
Eddy called the budget presentations “thoughtful.” She added the colleges and universities made their case for tuition and fee hikes.
The increases are initially approved by the boards of governors on the individual campuses, if the increases are more than five percent the HEPC has the final say. Approval Tuesday included tuition and fee increases for WVU, West Virginia State University and Fairmont State University.
The increases will begin with fall semester classes.