Message from the President
Message about tuition from President Finnegan
May 14, 2011
On Saturday, May 14, the Longwood University Board of Visitors approved the tuition, fees, and room and board rates for the 2011-12 academic year. Setting tuition and fee charges is always a difficult responsibility that the Board of Visitors spends considerable time discussing and analyzing. It is a balancing act - weighing access and affordability for students against the operational needs of the University.
Because Longwood University is a state-supported institution, many people assume that the Commonwealth of Virginia provides all of our funding. This is a misconception. In reality the state pays less than fifty percent of the cost for faculty, classrooms and other items related to academics at Longwood and pays nothing for items such as dining services, residence halls, fitness center, athletics, or other activities related to student life. The Commonwealth of Virginia is only able to fund 25.5 percent of Longwood's annual budget in Fiscal Year 2012 (July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012). The State's contribution to Longwood's budget has decreased 36 percent, or over $9 million, since 2008. In addition to these budget cuts, $3.3 million in federal stimulus money also disappears in 2012. Those reductions, coupled with increased costs for electricity, water, fuel, computer/software maintenance contracts, insurance, and other nondiscretionary costs, were the primary factors considered by the Board in determining tuition and fees for the upcoming year. In addition to funds for increased operating expenses, several initiatives also will be funded including:
- Hiring new faculty members
- Opening an Office of Sponsored Research (to solicit grants, including grants for undergraduate research)
- Expanding the Honors Program
For academic year 2011-2012, our in-state, full-time students living in University housing will see an average increase of 3.76 percent, an increase of $675, for a total annual average cost of $18,644. Full-time out-of-state students, living in University housing will see an average increase of 6 percent, for a total annual average cost of $30,494.
Longwood University will continue to offset higher tuition by providing additional financial assistance for students with a demonstrated need. In addition to Federal and State Financial Aid and private scholarships, the University sets aside over $1 million to assist those students.
There is some good news in public higher education. Governor McDonnell has made higher education a top priority for his administration. Working with the General Assembly he established legislation that will, if continually implemented and funded, put higher education back on a more stable financial footing that has the State paying a greater part of the costs rather than pushing the burden increasingly onto students and their parents. The Governor believes that investing in higher education is an investment in Virginia's economic future and we agree. Keeping higher education a priority will be a challenge, however, because there are many competing needs for limited state resources.
We are committed to raising more private dollars for student scholarships and other campus needs. There is finite funding and we must continually look for efficiency measures in all areas of our campus and make sure we are spending our dollars wisely.
One of our goals during these tough economic times is to maintain the quality of a Longwood education. For the 13th straight year, Longwood is ranked by U. S. News & World Report in the "Top Public Universities-Master's" in the South (in 9th place this past year) and in the top tier at number 27 among all Southern Universities-Master's (public and private). In addition, The Princeton Review ranks Longwood University as one of the best colleges and universities in the Southeast and Forbes lists Longwood as one of the best colleges in the United States. These public acknowledgements of our academic reputation are important to all of us within the Longwood family because they underscore the value of a Longwood education and the marketability of a Longwood degree.
Additionally, Longwood University offers our students a wide variety of opportunities to be leaders in the classroom, in student organizations, on the playing field and in their everyday lives. These leadership opportunities, combined with academic experiences, ensure that our students graduate as educated citizens ready to lead the next generation.
We are confident that the tuition and fee increase, coupled with our state funds and private contributions, will allow us to continue to provide our students with the quality education they want and deserve.