The Board of Visitors’ Finance Committee voted unanimously Friday to raise undergraduate tuition by three percent in each of the next two academic years in a majority of the University’s schools. The Committee also voted to raise the income level needed to qualify for free tuition and fees.
Undergraduate tuition for students in all schools, except for third and fourth-year Engineering students, will increase by three percent in both the 2024-25 and 2025-26 academic years. Third-year Engineering students in 2024-25 will see an increase of 7.3 percent — or $1,806 — for in-state students, and 4.7 percent — or $2,932 — for out-of-state students, while fourth years will see increases of 7.7 and 4.8 percent for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively.
For the 2025-26 academic year, third-year Engineering students will see a tuition increase of three percent, and fourth-years’ tuition will increase by 7.3 and 4.7 percent for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively.
J.J. Davis, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said while the University is increasing tuition by three percent in most places, the rate is still lower than the national rate of inflation. She says this helps maintain the University’s affordability for students.
“Overall, we're controlling costs, we're even cutting costs, maintaining affordability for our students and families and targeting philanthropy to allow us to improve access by redoubling our commitment to support Virginians,” Davis said.
Davis said that 40 cents for every dollar the University receives through tuition and state appropriations directly contributes to instruction, including faculty salaries.
Patricia Jennings, faculty member of the Board and Education prof., noted that the University’s faculty salaries are lower than those at peer institutions, contributing to faculty moving to other universities. During last September's meeting, Davis referred to this challenge as a “war for talent” between higher institutions.
Davis said that while keeping tuition increases lower than the pace of inflation improves affordability for more students, it has constricted the University’s ability to increase faculty salaries.
“In the last seven years we have maintained tuition, which is a natural lever to fund compensation increases, below even the rate of inflation,” Davis said. “So there's the inability then to raise salaries.”
Graduate schools — whose tuition is set to change for the 2025-26 academic year — will see varying rates of tuition change. On the low end, an accelerated masters Engineering student will see a 14.2 percent decrease in tuition, whereas a fourth-year PhD student in the School of Data Science will see an increase of 6.7 percent.
Davis also said that tuition increases are important for maintaining course on the 2030 “Great and Good” plan, a plan approved by the Board in 2019 that aims to make the University the number one public school in the nation. The plan includes initiatives such as housing all second-years on Grounds and developing the Emmett-Ivy corridor.
“Tuition is obviously a critical component to making sure that we can meet our objectives that we've stated,” Davis said.
Members also voted to expand University-provided financial aid based on family income for the 2024-2025 academic year. The Board approved a policy ensuring Virginia families making less than $150,000 a year will be offered a $2,000 grant, families making less than $100,000 a year will be offered free tuition and fees and families making less than $50,000 a year will be offered free tuition, fees, room and board.
As of 2019, the University offers free tuition and fees for Virginia families making less than $80,000 a year and free tuition, fees, room and board for families making less than $30,000 a year. University President Jim Ryan said that because the existing program is simple to understand, it could help students realize that the University is affordable.
“If we can explain it in a way that's very easy for people to understand, they're more likely to realize that they could afford U.Va.,” Ryan said. “We're doing everything we can to communicate to families that our doors are wide open.”
Vice Provost for Enrollment Stephen Farmer said the University has seen a 43 percent increase in applications from last year in the early decision and early action fields from the low-income Virginia high school students that this financial aid program targets. Farmer said that these students are qualified but may not know what financial aid is available.
“We know there are incredible students in those schools who would do well here and who would help others do well here — they're just not currently raising their hands for the University,” Farmer said. “We are just getting started.”
Ryan said the program's expansion will be funded by the endowment, which has added about $4.5 million from recent fundraising. Davis said the endowment is “critically important” to the University, as it has contributed $244 million to this year’s budget alone.
The Committee also voted to increase the cost of faculty and student housing. Currently, the University has 80 housing units available for faculty. With that number dropping to 30 units in the 2024-25 academic year as part of the affordable housing initiative, rates for faculty housing will increase by 5.1 percent.
The affordable housing initiative is a goal set by the University to release 1,000 to 1,500 University-owned housing units to be developed into affordable housing in Charlottesville and Albemarle County over the next decade.
The average housing cost for students living on Grounds will also increase by 5.5 percent for undergraduate students and 5.6 percent for graduate students. All first-year housing currently prices in at $7,470 per academic year, while certain upperclassmen options like Bond and Lambeth are $9,040.
The final cost increase came with the price of meal plans, which will increase by as much as 7.2 percent depending on the plan. The average cost increase is 6.8 percent. First-year students are required to purchase an all-access meal plan — which starts at $3,085 — but plans are optional for upperclassmen. The smallest plan, with 50 swipes per semester, costs $900.
Davis said that because the rate of inflation is higher for food, and the University does not receive funding from the Commonwealth for auxiliary expenses like housing and dining, these areas will see steeper cost increases compared to tuition.
The new cost increases will take effect on July 1 before each academic year begins, while the expanded income-based grants will also begin for the 2024-2025 academic year. The Committee will convene again during the March meeting of the Board.