Va Colleges a Bargain. Is that Enough to Save Them?

But can they survive the undertow?
But can they survive the undertow?

I know this undercuts my narrative of outrage regarding continual tuition hikes at Virginia’s public universities, but I try to present all the relevant facts. And the fact is, Virginia institutions score well for the educational “bang for the buck” they deliver. The Princeton Review has issued its “2013 Best Value Colleges,” and the University of Virginia claims the No. 1 spot, with the College of William & Mary taking No. 4.

Christopher Newport University, George Mason University, James Madison University, Longwood University, Radford University and Virginia Tech also made the list of the “Top 75,” which puts them in roughly the top quintile.

So, kudos to Virginia’s colleges and universities. By the pathetic standards of higher education generally, they are top grade. But the honors don’t change the fact that higher ed in Virginia is increasingly unaffordable, absorbing an ever-larger share of students’ family income, nor does it change the fact that the college-age wave is peaking and the number of applicants soon will recede, nor does it change the fact that online teaching models are emerging that will disrupt the entire industry. Still it is comforting to know that Virginia institutions will defy the undertow longer than most.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


6 responses to “Va Colleges a Bargain. Is that Enough to Save Them?”

  1. Breckinridge Avatar

    Indeed, picking up on my earlier note, such rankings do create hope that the Virginia institutions will be able to withstand the coming crisis. As the demand from students falls short of the supply of freshman slots, and fewer and fewer students have to pay tuitions driven up by capital costs for empty buildings, many schools are going under but perhaps more VA schools will survive. I still think major problems are coming for most of them.

  2. I’m afraid I’m becoming a cynic. So we have a college group that compiles a list of the “best value” colleges?

    I mean isn’t this like one of the owners of a payday loan company compiling a list of the “best value payday loan companies”.?


    so as per my increasingly common habit of looking at the methodology:

    ” The schools that made our “Best Value Colleges for 2013″ list are exceptional for two reasons—they provide stellar academics at an affordable cost—either via a comparatively low sticker price or generous financial aid (or both!). Students who attend these schools don’t have to mortgage their futures to pay for their degrees.”

    Now.. I don’t want to be a boo-bird… but I have trouble with words like “stellar” and “comparatively” and “generous” to say nothing of where that “generous” “aid” is coming from …

    Breckinridge says: ” I still think major problems are coming for most of them.”

    take than statement – go back 5 years and apply it to newspapers like the Washington Post.. and maybe that statement will have more import.

    but I don’t think capital costs are the problem. It’s salaries and benefits. buildings are cheap in comparison when the top 25 at UVA make 600K and no less than 300K.

    I get more than 14,000 employees at UVA and more than 7,000 at VPI, 5500 at virginia commonwealth, etc.

    14,000 at an average of 50K is

  3. 14000 times 50K is about 700 billion dollars..

    1. Breckinridge Avatar

      Uh. $700 million. Which of the fine VA universities taught you math? A whole lot of employee at those schools do not make 50K, even full time employees.

      Yes, I’ve noted the irony of the university leaders who come to Richmond to complain about low faculty salaries, but who have built massive internal bureaucracies of very well paid administrators who never enter a classroom.

  4. the 50K was a WAG based on the fact that the top salaries were multiple hundreds of thousands and the RTD database said the average state salary was

    go search that baby Breckinridge… and you’ll get a better idea of just how many employees Virginia colleges have.. and if that hits you the way it did me, you realize just how big the student enrollment must be to “fund” that many people – AND – more important – just how futile it is to think the price will get lower.

    What I fear is that as the price does not drop and people no longer can pay for college like they used to – and demand drops – that the only way to keep the enrollment numbers high is to lower standards.

  5. fiddling around with the RTD Database:

    SEAN T CONNAUGHTON Secretary of Transportation $160,433

    Top UVA Salary folks:

    Dekosky $650000
    Kron $561100
    Bruner $518900
    Sullivan $485000
    Strine $450000
    Lazor $425000
    Annex $420000
    Zeithaml $408000
    SANDRIDGE $370240
    HARDING $370000
    REID $356000
    HAWS $355000
    THORNER $350300
    LAZO $350000
    LITTLEPAGE $350000
    HILLMAN $344100
    KNAUS $342100
    SABATO $341300
    BOYLE $325000
    RYAN $322600
    HOSTLER $320000

Leave a Reply