Bacon Bits: Higher-Ed Edition

Modest UVa tuition increase. The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors has approved a 2.9% increase in-state tuition increase for undergraduate College of Arts & Sciences students next academic year, although other schools in the university may differ. The university’s financial aid program, Access UVa, will keep pace with tuition increases, reports the Daily Progress.

The board’s Finance Committee said it had exhausted other options before considering slight increases to undergraduate tuition but believed 2.9- to 3.5-percent increases in most schools are necessary. The increases represent only a modest premium over the 2.3% increase in the Consumer Price Index between September 2017 and September 2018. The modest price hikes (modest by comparison to past years) coincides with a $2.2 million increase in state support in Fiscal 2020.

Big bonus for Rao. The Virginia Commonwealth University board of visitors has approved a 14% bonus for President Michael Rao, already one of the highest-paid public university presidents in the U.S., reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Rao’s one-time bonus, which the RTD estimates could total more than $25,000, was based on a performance evaluation as called for in his contract. The president’s compensation in the 2016-17 academic year was $691,000, including salary, bonus and other pay.

The RTD article did not reveal what performance criteria, if any, Rao is judged by. However, the article noted that tuition for the typical in-state undergraduate student increased $866 this year, about 6%. Also, VCU fell short of its goals to recruit out-of-state students, creating a budget shortfall of $1.38 million. Another strategic goal is to reduce student debt, but the article provided no data on Rao’s success in that regard. One area in which VCU has been successful in recent years has been in reducing college dropouts and increasing the six-year graduation rate.

College affordability dashboard. Our friends (and former sponsors) at Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust have published a college affordability dashboard for Virginia institutions. The dashboard calculates a “net price” that adjusts the cost of attendance by the amount of financial aid provided. The affordability rankings look very different from rankings based on sticker price alone.

Christopher Newport University — $22,700
Virginia Commonwealth University — $20,741
University of Mary Washington — $20,182

Virginia Tech — $18,700
George Mason University — $18,629

Longwood University — $18,227
College of William & Mary — $17,415
Virginia State University — $16,427
James Madison University — $16,154
Virginia Military Institute — $16,085
Old Dominion University — $15,213
Norfolk State University — $14, 429
Radford University — $13,573
University of Virginia-Wise — $11,418

Students from affluent families still pay the full sticker price (unless they receive a rare merit scholarship).

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9 responses to “Bacon Bits: Higher-Ed Edition”

  1. “Students from affluent families still pay the full sticker price (unless they receive a rare merit scholarship).” That says it all! Undergraduate education at our “State” institutions is a huge one-time (per child) tax on the middle class alone. The very rich don’t care and the poor don’t pay it. I would far rather see the general tax brackets adjusted to decrease income inequality, than to see this highly targeted “education tax” levied — with its downstream effects on parent’s retirement planning and student debt. Don’t so many others feel this way?

  2. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    I’m not sure you have to be affluent (a subjective term) in every case to be stuck with sticker price (which did not seem to include room and board….). And by not listing the sticker price, but only the “adjusted” price, I suspect these folks are really just shills for the status quo…. But a useful website which readers should visit.

    Even with the “adjusted for aid” price you are looking at $75,000 to $90,000 for a four year program (again, with room and board still to pay). How many middle class families can scrape up that capital for two or three children born two or three years apart?

    Then do some simple math and take that price and the reported ten-year change rate and calculate FORWARD (which nobody ever does) to project the cost in 2028 or 2030. And notice the schools where a fairly high percentage are struggling with debt a few years after graduation…run that debt through the same multiplier.

    For my three grandchildren in 15 years – $600,000? As Virginia in-state students? Really think that’s going to work, Virginia? We’ve allowed these institutions to grow into gigantic, tax-exempt, family-capital vacuums sucking wealth from the future back to the present, just like the federal government has become with its debt. The greatest generation (we buried a great member this past week) replaced by the greediest generation.

    1. Indeed. The “giant sucking sound” we should be concerned about.

  3. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    Steve says: “I suspect these folks are really just shills for the status quo….”

    Me too, and have suspected it for quite some time.

    Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust designed that chart within Jim’s post to paint lipstick on a pig. In his above comment, Steve wiped that lipstick off to expose the ugly beast underneath. As he suggests, taken altogether, the long term financial harm these colleges and univerities are doing to our country, our society, and our families is stupendous.

    And this great financial harm is NOT the worst of it. The cultural harm they inflict on our society is Stupendous on Steroids.

    For evidence of this horrible cultural harm see for instance:

    1. I’m pretty sure that Partners for College Affordability wants you to notice the gigantic increases in cost during past 10 years, the unauthorized redistribution of revenue (as noted by posters above), the decreasing number of Virginians attending these in-state schools paid for by Virginians, as well as the difference between affordability, excellence, and the prospects of solvency upon exit. I hear disruption, not shilling for status quo. I’m sending them a donation.

      1. I didn’t have time to give the Partners dashboard a close look. Could you elaborate upon the numbers that jumped out for you?

        1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
          Reed Fawell 3rd

          Yes, Lift, please elaborate. All I could get to work on the dashboard was the chart, none of the squares below it, though I tried several times.

          1. Scrolling through the table, under Tuition & Fees increases, don’t you find it astounding to see 95%, 128%, 114%? And my mind inverts the in-state enrollment stats to show that there are schools now enrolling 38%, 32%, 34% and 41% out-of-state students. This has been gradual creep, & we know out-of-state student hand over more $ to schools that they may turn around & redistribute. Leave out arguments of authority or socialism, my biggest concern is that there is no limit to the high tuition/high aid dynamic. Again, we’re talking about publics here, not what private schools choose to do.

            I think what this table does that SCHEV data doesn’t is to provide families with “buyer beware” data, putting some real-life metrics on what a student may expect from their investment at one of these schools.

  4. There is a column that says “Change in Tuition & Fees”.

    What I see when I look at this, combined with some other sources, is a set of predictably highly-correlated data. The schools with the higher median incomes tend to be more selective, have a lower percentage of students getting federal aid and Pell Grants, higher completion rates and post-graduate earnings, and lower default rates and social mobility scores. They are taking middle and upper-middle class students and producing middle and upper-middle class students. The opposite is true for lower median income schools. They have higher mobility rate scores because they are taking in many more lower income students, but students also have low completion rates, and more debt and default.

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