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Incoming in-state students at the College of William & Mary next fall will benefit from the same fixed tuition guarantee sophomores, juniors and seniors currently enjoy, as the Board of Visitors approved an extension of the college’s Promise program Friday morning.
The William & Mary Promise, an operating model the college adopted in 2013, established guaranteed tuition rates for in-state undergraduate students matriculating in fall 2013, fall 2014 and fall 2015. The rate remains the same for an entering class through four years of study and does not change.
Sam Jones, senior vice president for finance and administration, said while tuition rates are historically set in the spring, the college wanted to announce the rate for the fall 2016 entering class – $15,674 annually – when students are applying to universities.
“When they decide in the spring, the family and the student can know what the cost of tuition will be and know it will be guaranteed for four years,” Jones said. “This is valuable information for them to have.”
While Jones said tuition and fees have risen since the Promise was implemented, he said high SAT scores from applicants demonstrate the cost to attend William & Mary has done no harm to the quality and number of in-state or out-of-state students.
“Three years into it, we still get a record number of applications in the undergraduate program,” Jones said.
The effort has helped the college achieve the third-lowest “net price,” or the full cost to attend minus grants or scholarships, for in-state students among all public universities in Virginia, according to U.S. Department of Education’s College Navigator website.
In addition to the fixed tuition rate, the Promise seeks to increase financial aid to reduce student loan debt for middle- and low-income Virginia families, add seats for Virginia undergraduates, enhance productivity through innovation and efficient campus operations and invest in resources to recruit and sustain faculty.
However, Jones said the college is willing to make sacrifices to keep its commitment to the fixed tuition rate – when the General Assembly approved a smaller budget last year, the college deferred some hires to compensate for the reduced funds.
“When they cut the budget, we’ll deal with it,” Jones said. “We will not renege on what we have promised people.”
Jones said the Board of Visitors will revisit the Promise annually but anticipates extending the program again in the future.