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2012 September 3 - 12:00 am

MONEY TREE: Tuition Increase at Va. Colleges Slows to Smallest in Decade

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Tuition at Virginia’s state-supported universities and colleges increased by 4.1 percent in 2012, the smallest rate in the past 10 years.

Gov. Bob McDonnell touted the news at a Virginia Commonwealth University event with college students wearing their school colors arrayed behind him including one of his twin sons, Sean McDonnell, a University of Virginia sophomore.

Years of double-digit increases nearly doubled tuition and fees since 2002 at Virginia schools as the General Assembly cut funding. This year, lawmakers approved $230 million to hold down increases. The average fell from 7.9 percent last year.

For the state’s two-year community college system, tuition and fees will increase by 4.6 percent, or $165 this year to $3,735.

Two years ago, McDonnell expressed frustration in particular with VCU after tuition rates there increased by 24 percent. He threatened to withhold the school’s state support unless it reined in cost increases.

VCU held its increase this year to 3.9 percent, below the state average.

Proportionately, the largest increases among four-year colleges are 5 percent boosts at Mary Washington University and the University of Virginia at Wise. That amounts to increased undergraduate tuition and fees in the 2012-13 academic year of $440 at Mary Washington and $386 at UVa-Wise.

But the largest boost in actual dollars is at Virginia Military Institute, where tuition and fees are increasing by $651, or 4.9 percent, to $13,835.

The smallest increase is 2.4 percent at Norfolk State University, up $160 from last year to $6,860, the lowest total for any four-year Virginia public college.

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