Report: College in Virginia is more expensive because the state hasn’t funded it

Virginia Mercury

Over the last decade, Virginia’s decreased spending on higher education has shifted more of the cost on to students, especially black, Latino and low-income ones, a new analysis by The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis found.

Virginia spends $1,306 less per student now than it did in 2008, even though the economy has returned to pre-recession levels, the nonprofit institute found.

In the same amount of time, the average tuition at public four-year institutions in the state increased 54.7 percent, or $4,534, and the average median income for Virginia families only grew about 2.4 percent.

That means for the average Virginia family, tuition makes up 17 percent of their median household income. That increases for some minorities: It’s 25 percent for black families and 19 percent for Latino families, the  report found.

The report comes on the heels of a Richmond Times-Dispatch column penned by Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, where he outlined a broad vision for education in Virginia and states his commitment to making college more affordable.

“We cannot expect tuition predictability and restraint at the campus level if we do not provide adequate, reliable funding at the state level — so we need to tackle both simultaneously,” Cox wrote.

“We also should consider setting aside funds to guard against tuition spikes during future economic downturns.”