McDonnell boosts aid to higher education

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Good news for college students and their parents. The state plans to increase aid for higher education in the next budget. This marks a sharp turn in a trend of reduced state aid that led to higher tuition.

The governor plans to make this funding boost happen not by raising taxes, but instead shifting the commonwealth's very limited resources from other programs into higher education. That means big cuts in other areas, and a strong hint to college presidents that days of big hikes in tuition should come to an end.

It is an ambitious proposal aimed at making life easier for college presidents when it comes to budget time.

"There will be a very clear formula in place that will help these presidents allocate monies," said Governor Bob McDonnell.

Governor McDonnell announces a plan to boost higher ed. funding by 100 million dollars in his next budget. The goal to help increase enrollment, create more degrees in science, math, technology and health care, and most importantly hold the line on tuition.

"By being more efficient, is keep that lid on tuition. I don't think they disagree with me. 10% a year in increases for a decade is not acceptable," he said.

Tuition has been a point of contention with the governor's office and college presidents who have lobbied heavily against the cuts to their funding; the response of many schools, like VCU was to raise tuition rates. Something McDonnell did not appreciate. He is hoping that this boost in funding should make monster cost hikes for students a thing of the past.

"If we do our part then I expect you to do your part and keep a lid on tuition," McDonnell added.

VCU President, Doctor Michael Rao, said the proposal looks good, but he needs to see the details before promising any relief when it comes to tuition.

"I'm excited to get into the details of the governor's proposal to see what that ends of meaning for us and in terms of total cost of education," Rao said.

The governor said the biggest complaint that students who meet with him have is about the debt that they leave college with. He is hoping that this will alleviate some of that burden. 

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