West Virginia State University won’t be raising tuition next academic year, but charges for meal plans and dormitories and two other fees will increase.
The university’s Board of Governors approved these increases Friday, in a voice vote with no dissent:
- The orientation fee for freshmen and transfer students will rise from $100 to $150;
- The one-time application fee for graduate students will rise from $28 to $50;
- Meal plans will increase from $2,267 to $2,562 per semester to $2,351 to $2,657; and
- A $100 refundable dorm room damage and reservation deposit will no longer be refundable, so the already required $100 non-refundable deposit will essentially be doubled
Christina Dalton, West Virginia State’s vice president for business and finance, said the higher student orientation fee will be so “our new student orientation can be more robust and offer our new students a comprehensive experience.”
For undergraduate students from West Virginia, the annual rate for tuition plus the fees that all students are charged will remain at about $7,900.
“The global pandemic has impacted our students and their families in significant ways, and adding additional costs for them at this time was not something we wanted to do,” the university said in a statement. “Instead, we are taking a proactive approach not only with cost savings, but to bring new revenue into the university. We are aggressively seeking to grow our enrollment, retain our current students and increase our fund-raising initiatives.”
Friday’s vote came after a presentation to the board on the school’s financial problems, including falling short amid the pandemic on past tuition revenue estimates.
Its top leadership has changed over the past year.
In creating the budget for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, the university projected it would receive about $12 million in tuition and fee revenue.
The university estimates it will receive $1.7 million less, Dalton said.
Instead of pulling in $5.8 million from “auxiliary” revenue, which includes money from food and housing, it will only get $4 million this fiscal year. That’s another $1.8 million off. Without federal pandemic relief money this fiscal year, Dalton said, “Our expenditures would have outpaced our revenues.”
“Due to the pandemic, other institutions have seen a loss in revenue in relation to tuition and fees and room and board,” she said.
The university’s net position — revenues minus expenses — began to “dwindle” in fiscal year 2018-19, before the pandemic, she said. This “very slim” net position, compared to earlier fiscal years, continued in fiscal year 2019-20, the latter part of which saw the pandemic begin, she said.
“From a cash flow standpoint, you see where the university was starting to be stressed,” she said.
Dalton said salary and wage costs had increased as net position dwindled, despite a general drop in student enrollment.
“If we don’t move forward with being more fiscally responsible now, the university will continue to struggle financially,” Dalton said.
Dalton said the university’s budget for next fiscal year cuts operating expenses by 10% and includes a hiring freeze for “non-critical” positions. The school is trying not to use further federal relief money to address deficits. West Virginia State intends to use that money to improve and grow the school long-term.