W.Va. higher ed panel approves tuition increases

Higher Education Policy Commission approves tuition increases at 5 West Virginia schools

Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- In-state tuition is increasing at least 6 percent at five West Virginia higher education institutions.

The Higher Education Policy Commission approved tuition increases on Tuesday for the 2013-2014 academic year at Bluefield State College and West Virginia, West Virginia State, Fairmont State and Shepherd universities, media outlets reported.

The increases range from 6 percent at WVU to 9 percent at West Virginia State. The average increase is $380.

Tuition also is going up at other state schools but those increases are less than 5 percent. The commission's approval is required if tuition increases exceed 5 percent.

Marshall University's tuition and fees will increase 4.8 percent.

"It is not comfortable in the state of West Virginia to have tuition increases ...," commission Secretary Kathy Eddy said, "but I think they made their case."

Two commission members, Secretary of Education and the Arts Kay Goodwin and state Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares, voted against the increases.

"I'm not so worried about (universities) as I am about their students and their families and their loans. But in the very near future, we're going to see those institutions failing because of their student loan default rates," Goodwin said. "I think we only add to the problem when we increase tuition rates."

Phares also is concerned about student debt.

"I'm concerned that students entering college have difficulty matriculating through the college system and ultimately have a huge debt," he said. "The percent of completers are mismatched with the needs of the workforce. Not enough are graduating with the skills and knowledge they need."

Commission chairman David Hendrickson said all the schools took a hard line in an attempt to keep the increases as low as possible.

"There's not any fluff in any of these budgets ... It's really tight across the institution," he said.

All state colleges and universities are facing a 9 percent cut in state funding for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

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