May 11, 2021

UMW Board of Visitors votes to freeze tuition for third year

To all faculty and staff:

At its meeting today, April 16, the University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors endorsed President Troy Paino’s recommendation that tuition be held at current rates for the third consecutive year. The President acknowledged the difficult financial impact of COVID and rising costs on the University, but noted that the University is prioritizing student affordability over other budgetary considerations.

Both undergraduate and graduate students will benefit from consistent tuition rates through the coming year, regardless of in- or out-of-state residency. Housing and dining costs will rise by 2 percent. Auxiliary fees will increase by 4 percent for full-time undergraduate and graduate students. The modest increases will help address state mandates, contractual obligations, and unavoidable cost increases. Overall, full-time Virginia students living in campus housing will experience a net increase of $414 or 1.7 percent, inclusive of tuition, housing, dining, and auxiliary charges.

“It would be a failure in our public mission to ignore the economic hardships facing many of our students and their families,” said Paino. “Clearly this decision will have an impact on our ability to undertake certain initiatives and to provide the full range of services and programming that students request, as well as challenge our ability to meet some current commitments, but we believe that affordable access is the foremost need of our student body as a whole.”

During its budget cycle ending earlier this month, the General Assembly and Governor Northam adopted a plan that was more favorable to UMW than in previous years. It included new allocations for planning monies for a new theatre and renovation of Melchers/Pollard/duPont halls, COVID relief funding for unbudgeted expenses, support for a new joint education and workforce training program with local secondary schools and Germanna Community College, and additional financial aid for UMW students.

President Paino expressed his appreciation for these commitments. “There are many aspects of the state budget development that have been beneficial to UMW and they allow us to continue to make important strategic decisions.” In addition, the state’s mandates, while costly, will benefit the University’s infrastructure. “I am especially grateful that our elected officials recognized that our employees warrant compensation adjustments,” Paino added.

The University is required to match all state compensation commitments. It will also absorb additional costs related to health insurance premiums, minimum wage increases, new state required software, and other mandates. The President noted that mandates, existing contractual obligations and unavoidable costs will exceed projected revenue for the coming year. In order to fulfill these commitments, the University will choose to look at other cost savings measures, rather than pass the costs to students and families.

“Fortunately, state support will offset all but $1.7 million of the coming year’s budget shortfall” said Vice President of Finance and Business Affiars and Chief Financial Officer Paul Messplay. “We will still have to plan judiciously and make difficult decisions to reach a balanced budget, and we must exercise careful cost containment next year, but it is worth it to be able to award raises to all employees and avoid penalizing students.”

Rector of the Board Heather Crislip acknowledged the extraordinary circumstances of the past year. “The Board realizes this decision will call for some sacrifices from the entire University in order to achieve a fiscally responsible and balanced budget. While we are deeply attuned to the University’s budgetary limitations, as well as the necessity of making quality-enhancing investments, in this environment we concur that holding the line on costs to families is paramount.”

UMW anticipates finalizing and presenting its 2021-22 budget to the Board of Visitors for approval in June. The University receives approximately 25 percent of its total revenue from the state, with the remainder coming primarily through tuition and fees.