Today we presented budget recommendations for the 2016-17 fiscal year to the VCU Board of Visitors for its consideration. This is a conservative proposal that reflects the need to constrain tuition and fee increases while helping to ensure a high-quality educational experience for VCU students.
VCU’s budget tells a story. We continue to come to terms with a fundamental change in the financing of higher education. In the early 2000s the state supported two-thirds the cost of the academic-instructional budget. In the past 15 years that has reversed, with about 30 percent of revenue provided by the state and 70 percent generated through tuition and fees.
Throughout this change, our goal has been to strengthen VCU as a public research university by focusing on student success: ensuring access, affordability and timely degree completion. For example, university-funded financial aid has increased from $5 million in 2008 to more than $30 million in 2017. Financial aid combined with more course sections, an increase in faculty positions and enhanced student services have significantly contributed to improved 4- and 6-year graduation rates. Very importantly we have closed the graduation gap, with our minority students graduating at the same or better rates than our white students.
The proposed 2016-17 budget reflects our continued quest to ensure student success within limited means. The General Assembly and Governor have worked to partially restore the deep cuts of the past. At the same time, the university faces $24 million in unavoidable cost increases that include things like the university’s share of salary and fringe benefit increases and costs to open and maintain facilities.
The budget proposal addresses these unavoidable costs as well as a $5.6 million increase in university-funded financial aid to our students and $4.3 million for academic program growth and infrastructure, faculty recruitment and retention and safety and compliance infrastructure.
To fund these goals, the FY 17 budget recommendations include:
- A permanent 1 percent reallocation of payroll costs from department budgets to a central strategic initiatives pool. This reallocation will provide more than $3 million in funding to provide additional need-based financial aid for students and high priority needs;
- An increase in the tuition rate of $260 or 2.5 percent for in-state undergraduate students;
- An increase of $88 or 5 percent of the university fee, primarily to address unavoidable cost increases and provide additional student support such as student counseling, career and other student services and Title IX training and enforcement;
- An increase of $10 in the library fee.
The total increase in tuition and mandatory fees for in-state undergraduate students would be $358, a 2.8 percent increase, from $12,772 to $13,130. The financial aid increase would be used to offset the tuition and fees increase for students with demonstrated financial need.
This is an incremental budget proposal that enables VCU to meet unavoidable cost increases and modestly address high priority areas that support student success.
The full budget proposal presented to the board is available on the Office of Budget and Resource Analysis website.
Next steps are for the university administration to finalize the FY 2017 proposed tuition and fees and university budget plan for formal board action at its May 13, 2016 meeting.
I appreciate the opportunity to provide information on our budget proposal and share the story of dedicated, hard working and creative faculty, staff and students who roll up their sleeves and, with the resources at hand, develop the next generation of leaders to advance the well being of those around us.
Thank you for all that you do to make VCU a great urban public research university.