By Jordan Fifer
UVa-Wise students saw a modest increase in tuition, student fees and room and board charges this year, according to a state report released last month that ranked the college as the fourth least expensive four-year public institution in Virginia.
The average total cost for a full-time, in-state student living on campus rose 7.1 percent from the 2009-2010 academic year to $15,545 according to the report released by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. The data collected was provided to the council by public colleges and universities across the state.Tuition, including mandatory education and general fees, rose 8.8 percent this year to $4,020, according to the report. That’s lower than the average annual increase of 10.5 percent at Virginia’s four-year institutions over the past decade, which has been largely due to the colleges trying to offset deficits from the poor economy.
The cost to attend UVa-Wise this year makes the college the fourth least expensive school of the 15 four-year public institutions in Virginia.
Even so, Sim Ewing, the college’s vice chancellor for finance and administration, said the total price may not be the best indicator of affordability.
“We’re looking at the sticker price,” he said. “That’s not what most students here are paying.”
In fact, more than 80 percent of UVa-Wise students receive financial aid, according to the college’s financial aid office.
“To us, it’s been important to maintain affordability,” Ewing said. “By using financial aid and keeping the prices low … it creates an even better environment for the student.”
That was a key factor in Lexie Osborne’s decision to attend UVa-Wise. The freshman music and education major also considered Christopher Newport and Radford universities.
“It was one of the reasons I chose here, because it’s so inexpensive,” Osborne said.
Despite the moderate increase in cost, college administrators stressed that UVa-Wise remains one of the most affordable colleges in the state. The average increase from 2009-2010 for in-state undergraduate tuition, including mandatory education and general fees, was 13.1 percent at Virginia’s public four-year institutions. UVa-Wise saw only an 8.8 percent jump.
“This is a case where the lower you are, the better off,” Ewing said.