BY OLIVIA SNIDER
Though the tuition increase for this year is higher than it has been for Mary Washington in the past, it is still lower than at many other universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“The overall driver for the university is affordability,” said Dan Steen, the new rector for the Board of Visitors.
As the new rector, Steen will work with both the BOV and the administration on upcoming changes for the campus. Steen emphasized the university’s new master plan, brought forth in a presentation earlier this year by President Hurley and his staff.
This plan encompasses three major points, according to Steen. The first is overseeing a successful transition to the new three-college system.
The second facet of the master plan is construction, specifically geared toward improving residence halls, Steen said. The third is advancement of the university, communication and external affairs.
Steen said this includes “creating a buzz about Mary Washington.”
The establishment of the new colleges and the construction projects on campus have created significant costs for the university, and the BOV has already garnered a capital contribution of a total of $75 million to help offset costs, said Steen.
Still, according to Steen, donations and fundraising are vital to the university in order to compensate improvement costs while maintaining the balance between faculty salaries and student tuition.
State revenues have been in decline over the last few years, Steen said. Because Fredericksburg is not technically located in Northern Virginia, the faculty at Mary Washington does not receive monetary compensation to offset the high cost of living, like at other
universities such as George Mason.
As the May 7 news release from the Mary Washington website indicates, the cost of tuition, other fees and room and board for all students living on campus has gone up $1,200.
This increase resulted in overall cost increases ranging from 3.4 percent to 9 percent.
“I barely have nickels and dimes to rub together with my current student loans,” senior Katie Flench said. Flench currently lives off campus.
Despite this change, Mary Washington is still one of the most affordable public universities in Virginia. Of the 15 public universities in Virginia, UMW has the 10th lowest cost.
For students who are not working, these tuition increases may require taking on employment. For those who already are, it may push them to take on more hours, which could affect their academic performance.
“[The tuition increase] affects me personally and academically,” said Flench.
Cara MacDonald, a senior and out-of-state student, is also concerned with the increase.
“My family has been hit hard by the economy, and to avoid high interest rates of loans, my parents have been trying to pay up-front,” she said. “Any increase at all is going to put a burden on us.”