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Virginia needs $660 million for higher education

Would mean average student pays $2,700 less

ROANOKE – Families sometimes struggle paying for college, paying for tuition, fees, room and board, along with books and more.

Virginia would need more than $660 million to restore the balance of funding to colleges and universities across the Commonwealth and possibly bring down costs for students according to a new report by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

With the additional money going to schools, it could mean the average student pays $2,700 less.

The report points to a drop in state funding after the 2001 recession, and to schools having to make up the difference.

The council says colleges and universities have seen state budget cuts in eight of the last ten years and when Virginia did give schools more money, tuition and fee increases didn't rise as much.

The report says if the next ten years are like the last decade the system is in peril and changes need to be considered:

"Access, affordability and quality -the cornerstones of our system - are in jeopardy. For these reasons, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is reviewing options that could result in greater continuity and predictability of funding for our colleges and their students. However, our public institutions of higher education are diverse and have differing missions, student demographics and tuition capacities. It is not practical to consider a one-size-fits-all funding approach for the distribution of scarce state resources. The Commonwealth could develop funding mechanisms in order to sustain its system of public higher education by amending current funding policies such as the cost share policy under the umbrella of expanded restructuring or allowing selected institutions to pursue greater autonomy through their enrollment and tuition capacity. Such changes could free up general fund resources to support institutions that have a more limited capacity to generate additional tuition revenues. These changes would not be easy or without risk, but the alternative may be diminished access to a generally degraded system. If the next 10 years are similar to the last 10 years for Virginia public higher education, our system is indeed in peril and all options to improve its future should be considered."