Bills would let Norfolk and Virginia State Universities lower some out-of-state tuition

Legislation aims to recruit students for high-demand jobs in Virginia

By: - March 1, 2023 12:02 am

Norfolk State University, one of Virginia's historically Black colleges and universities, may soon be able to offer reduced tuition to certain out-of-state students. (Courtesy Photo)

Norfolk and Virginia State Universities may soon be able to offer reduced tuition rates for certain out-of-state students after the General Assembly passed a pair of bills granting them that authority.

An earlier version of the legislation could have opened the door for all public higher education institutions in Virginia to offer reduced out-of-state tuition for some students. However, that language was removed during final negotiations between the House and Senate before the bill’s passage last week, according to Del. Mike Cherry, R-Colonial Heights, who carried the legislation in the House.

“We wanted [the legislation] to be very narrowed, because we were trying to help our HBCUs to recruit highly qualified people for the high-demand jobs that are available here in Virginia,” Cherry told the Mercury Friday, referring to historically Black colleges and universities. 

Of Virginia’s five HBCUs, Norfolk State and Virginia State are the only public ones. The other three — Hampton University, Virginia Union University and Virginia University of Lynchburg — are private. 

Cherry said data shows graduates in high-demand fields are likely to stay after graduation, and so “we think this program really helps us recruit talent from out of state, bring them in, get them these high-demand jobs, and keep them here in Virginia.”

According to the legislation, which was carried by Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, in the Senate, Norfolk State and Virginia State would be allowed to charge a reduced tuition rate to any out-of-state student who has completed at least 30 credit hours of coursework and is enrolled in a data science and technology, science and engineering, health care or education program. 

If an out-of-state student being charged a reduced tuition rate were to switch to another program not leading to a job in a high-demand field, they would be charged tuition at the full rate for non-Virginia students. 

“We’ve worked very hard to get this through both chambers,” Cherry said. “It was great working with Sen. Lucas on the Senate side to make sure that we got the right bill for these HBCUs and to make sure that they’re able to do what we need them to do, which is to continue to grow and thrive in today’s challenging world of education.”

As Virginia seeks to grow its technology, health care and education workforce, the bills could pave the way for future legislation to offer similar authority to other public higher education institutions.

Another bill that would have authorized reduced tuition rates for out-of-state students at Radford University failed to get a hearing in a House education subcommittee this past session. That bill would have limited the reduced rate to students who resided in the Appalachian region, a federally designated area including all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states including Virginia.


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Nathaniel Cline
Nathaniel Cline

Nathaniel is an award-winning journalist who's been covering news across the country since 2007, including politics at The Loudoun Times-Mirror and The Northern Neck News in Virginia as well as sports for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. He has also hosted podcasts, worked as a television analyst for Spectrum Sports, and appeared as a panelist for conferences and educational programs. A graduate of Bowie State University, Nathaniel grew up in Hawaii and the United Kingdom as a military brat. Five things he must have before leaving home: his cellphone, Black Panther water bottle, hand sanitizer, wedding ring and Philadelphia Eagles keychain.