In his State of the Union address this week, President Obama was the latest in a long line of officials to call on colleges to keep higher education affordable, an issue that the Mary Baldwin University Board of Trustees has considered for a long time and took up at its most recent meeting.
At last week’s gathering of the Board in Richmond, Trustees passed the lowest tuition rate increase for the Residential College for Women in more than a decade, indicating a desire to keep the cost of a Mary Baldwin education within the grasp of working families.
The board approved a 2.5 percent increase in tuition for 2013–14, from $27,670 to $28,360. The same percentage increase was approved for student fees as well. Before last week’s measure, the lowest rate increase the Board approved since 2000 was three percent, for both the 2004–05 and 2005–06 academic years.
“We are aware that families are scrutinizing the price — and value — of a college education,” said Jane Miller ’76, vice chair of the Board. “We want families to be able to send their daughters to a place like Mary Baldwin, where we know they will receive a high-quality liberal education that prepares them for success in whatever career they choose.”
College officials predict that the rate increase will fall significantly below the average rate of tuition increases among Mary Baldwin’s peers around the country. Last fall, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) released data indicating that tuition and fees at the nation’s private, nonprofit institutions of higher learning rose 3.9 percent for 2012–13. That marked the lowest rate in at least four decades and the fourth year in a row that the percentage increase in tuition stayed below pre-recession rates.
Mary Baldwin has enacted several measures in recent years to help increase the affordability of a college degree. Soon after the onset of the global economic crisis in 2008, Mary Baldwin increased need-based financial aid to students and created “Julia’s List,” which provided supplemental grant support to high-achieving students with financial need. The college has also established a partnership with the Virginia Community College System to adopt a Guaranteed Admissions Agreement to facilitate the transition from community college to Mary Baldwin.
Mary Baldwin will not raise tuition in 2013–14 for the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs or graduate programs in Shakespeare and Performance. The Board, however, approved a modest 2.10 percent rise in tuition for Graduate Teacher Education, which comes on the heels of a year without an increase.