Virginia institutions brace for $654M budget cut

'This comes as a disappointment but not a surprise'

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced last week that the state's public colleges and universities face a $654 million budget cut in the next fiscal year, Michael Martz and Karin Kapsidelis report for the Richmond Times-Dispatch

For the fiscal year beginning July 1, state officials told higher education leaders to expect a 7.5% cut in appropriations from the state general fund. The reductions come as the state attempts to close a projected $1.48 billion shortfall over a two-year period.

In a memo, Chief of Staff Paul Reagan said that that college and university leaders "should begin planning for the likelihood" of budget cuts when the governor introduces his budget proposal Dec. 16.

He also noted that the governor expects institutions "to make a concerted effort to identify real, ongoing efficiencies and related savings" without increasing tuition and fees. "Tuition and fee increases beyond what was already being proposed in an institution's six-year plan should not be considered as a mechanism to offset these reductions," Reagan added.

The College of William & Mary anticipates a reduction of nearly $5 million, while the Virginia Institute of Marine Science expects a $1.56 million cut. 

"We have understood for some time that the state budget will need to be tightened, so this comes as a disappointment but not a surprise," says Dan Hix, finance policy director for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

At an advisory committee meeting for university presidents, Hix reviewed a budget request that would pour an additional $45.8 million into the higher education budget for fiscal year 2018. The money would go toward operations and faculty salary increases, with $11.7 million reserved for financial aid (Martz/ Kapsidelis, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/2). 

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