Alumni Legislative Information Network

The 2017 General Assembly Session adjourned and the University Board of Visitors approved tuition rates for the 2017–18 academic year. As noted in February, the focus on Higher Education during the state legislative process was more targeted than usual. The University monitored legislation relating to higher education in general and the University specifically, and posted legislative and budget reports throughout the session on the State Government Relations site.

Legislators introduced bills on a variety of higher education issues during the 2017 Session. Most notable among those were bills seeking to cap tuition increases and limit enrollment and financial aid for out-of-state students. Although these bills ultimately did not pass, the General Assembly determined that the issues merited additional study and included language in the budget directing the Joint Subcommittee on the Future Competitiveness of Higher Education in Virginia to review issues around access, affordability, quality, and autonomy in higher education.

Included below is a list and links to several of the bills passed having the greatest impact on the University:*

The University of Virginia continues to prioritize access and affordability. In December, the Board established the Bicentennial Scholars Fund, an endowment of up to $300 million to support student need and merit based scholarships so that, over time, tuition will no longer be used to fund UVA’s financial aid program. The Fund was created through a combination of philanthropic support and matching from the Strategic Investment Fund of up to $100 million over the next five years. In January, the Board established the Cornerstone Grant to expand financial aid for middle-income families. This fall, qualifying first- and second-year Virginians from families with income of less than $125,000 will be eligible to receive a $2,000 Cornerstone Grant. Initial funding for the Cornerstone Grant, estimated at $15 million over the next three years, will also be provided by the Strategic Investment Fund. After the initial three years, funding for the initiatives will be incorporated into the annual operating budget through a combination of operational savings, private philanthropy and/or other private revenue sources. The initiatives are part of a multiyear strategy to enhance access and affordability for in-state undergraduates at the University – already recognized as one of the best values in higher education.

In April, our Board of Visitors approved tuition rates for the upcoming 2017-18 academic year, adopting a 2.2% increase in tuition for in-state undergraduate students. This modest increase demonstrates our commitment to academic excellence and builds on our affordability efforts through AccessUVA, with continued loan caps, the guaranteed tuition plan, the Bicentennial Scholars Fund, and the Cornerstone Grants. For the second year in a row, the University of Virginia has again had the lowest tuition increase in the Commonwealth.

Linked here you will find a handout on student debt that highlights our ability to graduate students on time with lower-than-average debt coupled with higher-than-average earning potential. You will note the national average debt is $25,500 versus $20,500 for UVA undergraduates. I hope this information will serve as a resource to you and your families.


Governance and Transparency

  • Requires leadership of the Board of Visitors (rector or vice rector) be Virginia residents [HB1402/SB907]
  • Mandates 30-day public notice prior to the Board of Visitors voting on tuition increases [SB1376]
  • Encourages free speech and prohibits public institutions from abridging First Amendment freedoms [HR431/HB1401]
  • Requires institutions to report their investment and cash earnings [HB2171]
  • Establishes requirements for certain construction procurement methods and requires the Department of General Services to review proposed procurement method [HB2366/SB1129]

Student Affairs and Safety Issues

  • Increases the proof of neutral grain spirits or alcohol that is without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color that may be sold in Virginia [HB1842]
  • Requires resident assistants to participate in a mental health first aid training program [HB1911]

Academic Affairs

  • Requires institutions to develop policies for counting credit received for completion of American Sign Language courses toward satisfaction of the foreign language entrance, placement, and course credit requirements [HB1512]. Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Staunton) recognized UVA as a leader in this area when the bill was heard in committee.
  • Requires SCHEV to work with institutions to enhance the transparency of awarding credit for dual enrollment courses [HB1662/SB1534]
  • Requires SCHEV to work with institutions to develop a passport credit program which will provide for uniform acceptance of specified courses towards a general education requirement [SB1234]

2016-18 Budget Amendments [HB1500]

  • $7.1 million (5%) reduction in UVA’s base budget for FY2018 ($56.1 million total reduction for all institutions)
  • Authorizes 3% salary increase for classified and University staff and 2% for faculty effective July 10, 2017

Bills for Interim Study

  • Substance abuse recovery student housing programs [HB1447]
  • Limiting the amount of tuition revenues that can be used for financial aid and mandating a percentage of undergraduate students be Virginia residents [HB1410]
  • Virginia Student Loan Refinancing Authority [SB1036]

* To access a complete list, the full text, and the status of all introduced legislation, visit the Legislative Information System.