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Virginia Tech discusses tuition and fees, student representatives speak out

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 7:40 PM EST
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors will discuss whether to raise tuition and fees in the fall.

The university first announced in February an increase is being considered. Students across the campus community had a chance to state how they feel directly to the Board of Visitors during a public comment period.

Many students simply said they do not want tuition to go up.

“This summer, I was living in Blacksburg, and paying $5,000 for the summer tuition. With that I was living in very low-cost housing, which resulted in some dire circumstances to be living in,” said Sabrina Sturgeon, a graduate student at Virginia Tech.

She is one of the few students who shared their stories during a public comment period about a proposed tuition and fee increase.

“I get that we have to get the money from somewhere, but getting it from the students is drawing directly from the most vulnerable population,” said Sturgeon.

She is like many others who say it can cost a lot to be a student.

“Once we spend money on comprehensive fees, rent - you know, food, everything else, we’re left with only $150 a month - that hurts once other costs are going up,” said Maruf Hoque, a graduate student and president of the graduate student assembly.

The proposed increase ranges from zero to 2.9% for undergrad and graduate students.

“What the challenge in all of this is, is finding the right balance between accessibility and affordability because affordability is a key component of accessibility and quality and value,” said Mark Owczarski, the university spokesperson.

“And I think that would go a long way to bridging that gap and making students, as well as parents in their community, understand why their money is being increased and what it’s being used for, but would also help alleviate the financial stress the university is going through,” said Miles Taylor-Guth, Virginia Tech’s SGA president.

During a workshop presentation about tuition and fees, the university showed state funding and support has slightly decreased over time - impacting several costs.

“So the state will say to us we need to increase our facility salary by 5%, but they only contribute a small part of that about 40% --- we have to come up with the other 60%,” said Owczarski.

The university says they want to make sure the value of student education is protected, all while making sure it stays affordable.

The campus community can still submit thoughts to the board of visitors for consideration until March 14 online.

The board will discuss and make a final decision during their next board meeting March 21 and 22.

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