W&M approves budget, plans to increase financial aid, faculty diversity

Plan includes strategic investments in financial aid, diversity initiative and curriculum

WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

The William & Mary Board of Visitors on Friday unanimously approved the university’s fiscal year 2018 budget, which reflects additional financial aid for students, funds the second year of an ongoing commitment to faculty diversity, and supports the COLL curriculum, a new engineering and design program, and undergraduate enrollment growth. (WYDaily file photo)
The William & Mary Board of Visitors unanimously approved the university’s fiscal year 2018 budget, which reflects additional financial aid for students, funds the second year of an ongoing commitment to faculty diversity, and supports a new engineering and design program. (WYDaily file photo)

The William & Mary Board of Visitors on Friday unanimously approved the university’s fiscal year 2018 budget, which reflects additional financial aid for students, funds the second year of an ongoing commitment to faculty diversity, and supports the COLL curriculum, a new engineering and design program, and undergraduate enrollment growth.

“With this budget, we continue to focus on William & Mary’s highest priorities,” said President Taylor Reveley. “We are navigating very challenging budget times. This limits our capacity to do all that we had hoped to do and highlights the need to find savings and efficiencies in our existing programs.” 

In his presentation to the Board during Friday’s Committee on Financial Affairs, Senior Vice President Sam Jones said the 2017-2018 budget is built around supporting the priorities of the William & Mary Promise, including increasing the availability of financial aid, decreasing student debt for low- and middle-income Virginia students and families and providing additional resources to recruit and retain superb faculty.

In the four years since the Promise was adopted, William & Mary has generated significant funding for new investments and strategic priorities through a combination of new revenues, reallocations, business innovation and cost-cutting measures. For example, William & Mary identified $2.65 million in savings internally for fiscal year 2018 through a combination of budget reallocations, business innovation and targeted personnel vacancy savings.

As part of the W&M Promise’s four-year tuition guarantee for in-state students, rates for Virginia students remain constant through all four years. Therefore, the adopted budget includes no tuition increases for rising in-state sophomores, juniors or seniors. In November, the Board set the four-year guaranteed tuition for incoming in-state freshman students at $16,370, which is 4.4 percent higher from the tuition charged to last year’s incoming class. The tuition reset percentage increase for incoming in-state freshmen represents the smallest increase since the William & Mary Promise was adopted by the Board in 2013. By virtue of the guarantee, in-state freshmen entering in fall 2018 will pay the equivalent of an annual tuition increase of just over 1 percent per year.

Friday’s Board action also approved next year’s tuition for out-of-state undergraduates, tuition rates for graduate students, mandatory fees, and room and board. According to the budget adopted Friday, out-of-state undergraduates will see a 3.5 percent increase in tuition in fiscal year 2018 to $37,425. The total cost for out-of-state undergraduates, including mandatory fees, room and board will be $55,469. The total cost for incoming in-state undergraduates will be $33,843.

With the fiscal year 2018 budget, William & Mary continues year-over-year increases in financial aid for students. The budget includes an additional $4.36 million – a 10.75 percent increase – for student aid available to undergraduate and graduate students. Since fiscal 2013, the year prior to the W&M Promise, available in-state financial aid for undergraduates has more than doubled to roughly $25.3 million in 2017-18.

The commitment to growing in-state financial aid is part of William & Mary’s overall effort to increase socioeconomic diversity at the university. Since the William & Mary Promise’s inception, the average net price for Virginia students and families with financial need making less than $75,000 annually has dropped by more than 20 percent. Among public universities in Virginia, W&M offers the lowest average net price for Virginians at or below the $75,000 income threshold who qualify for financial aid.

“The Board is committed to keeping William & Mary as affordable as possible for the greatest number of students,” said Rector Todd A. Stottlemyer ’85. “The William & Mary Promise has ensured that the university remains accessible to low- and middle-income Virginia students. Scholarships are also the top priority of the For the Bold campaign, which will guarantee a W&M education remains affordable for students of high intellectual promise, regardless of means.”

The 2017-2018 budget also absorbs a $2.15 million decrease in funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“This was not an easy budget, but William & Mary is still moving forward and making progress in priority areas,” Jones said.

Other highlights of the budget approved Friday:

  • The second $500,000 in a $1 million, two-year commitment made in 2016 to devote additional resources to increasing diversity on campus. In addition to $500,000 for faculty diversity, W&M invested $100,000 in the Office of Diversity & Equal opportunity in the fiscal 2017 budget.
  • $575,000 to support undergraduate enrollment growth. Fiscal year 2018 represents the final year of a multi-year phase-in of enrollment growth under the William & Mary Promise. Under the Promise, the university committed to growing its overall in-state undergraduate enrollment by 150 students over a four-year period. These funds are allocated to Arts & Sciences and business to offset the impact of increased enrollment on these programs.
  • An additional $250,000 in new funding to support the development of COLL 400 capstone courses, raising the annual commitment to the new curriculum to $400,000 in fiscal year 2018.
  • An additional $200,000 in incremental funding for an engineering and design initiative, bringing its annual budget to $500,000 for fiscal year 2018. This continued investment will provide start-up funds to create a minor in data science and lay the groundwork for a program in Engineering, Physics, and Applied Design (EPAD).
  • An average 3 percent merit-based pool for faculty and professional staff, and, as required by the state, a 3 percent across-the-board increase for all operational and classified staff. The commonwealth provided funding for its share of a 2 percent salary increase for faculty, but provided institutions of higher education with the ability to increase salaries at a higher rate with institutional funds.