CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The state Higher Education Policy Commission allowed Fairmont State University, Marshall University, West Liberty University and West Virginia University to boost in-state undergrad tuition by more than the 5 percent allowed without the commission’s approval.
Among the rate hikes requiring a vote were Fairmont State’s 6.6 percent increase, Marshall University’s 9.1 percent increase within the School of Pharmacy program, West Liberty’s 9.1 percent increase within the Nursing program and WVU’s 7.8 percent increase.
Among all four-year schools, the rates would increase by an average of 5.44 percent, or $320, raising the total per-semester cost to $6,211 for out-of-state students and $3,106 for in-state students.
While the vote was unanimous, there were concerns raised about the overall trend of increasing tuition.
“At some point, are we not going to price ourselves out of the market, even though we’re one of the lowest states in tuition and fees?” commissioner David Hendrickson asked. “I know we have to do it. I’m not criticizing any institution.”
Members of the commission met Monday with administrators from the four institutions, hearing that decreases in state and federal funding created a shortfall. The panel felt the arguments were compelling enough.
“I think at the end of the day, it’s not 100 percent on the schools to say they’re putting [tuition costs] on the backs of the students,” commissioner Kathy Eddy said. “I think it is probably more to say that the state of West Virginia is putting it on the backs of the students.”
Hendrickson said he worried about the availability of higher education.
“It just seems like the people who need the education the most and the ones who can’t afford it the most are the ones that pay the biggest price.”