by Shareen Nicholson and Tiana Allen
In an exclusive interview with the Spartan Echo on Monday, March 28, President and CEO Eddie N. Moore, Jr. discussed the increases in tuition and fees for the upcoming school year. On Mar. 18, the Norfolk State University Board of Visitors voted to set tuition and fees for the 2016-17 academic year.
The board approved a $156-dollar increase in tuition and a $216-dollar increase in mandatory fees for resident undergraduate students. The total tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students will be $8,738 dollars. The tuition for graduate students increased to $846 dollars, and mandatory fees increased $216 dollars.
The state supplies just more than half of the funding for Norfolk State and the university has to make up the rest. President Moore emphasized that NSU is not trying to make up lost ground from previous in-state tuition freezes imposed by the Commonwealth; they are just taking care of bills.
The increase in tuition will primarily be used to comply with a state-mandated raise that will affect full-time faculty and staff. It will also be used to help maintain several buildings on campus, including the student center, student services building, and nursing and general education building.
Earlier this semester, the BOV decided to move forward with a decision that will make it mandatory for all freshman students to reside on campus, excluding those who stay within a certain radius from campus. According to President Moore, the increases to room and board will help generate revenue to help aid upcoming renovations and improvements that are scheduled for the residence halls.
“Unfortunately, not all of those are above ground, or behind doors. So, while everyone may not see $9 million dollars’ worth of improvement, some of it is replacing boilers and pipes and things that are behind closed doors or behind walls,” said Moore.
NSU was one of the first institutions in the Commonwealth to set its tuition and fees; however, NSU expects to remain one of the most affordable four-year public institutions in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
In addition, Norfolk State will continue its flat-rate tuition policy. President Moore hopes that the increase in tuition will strongly encourage students to take 18 credit hours per semester.
“We need all the students to understand that financial aid only covers five years of their education. Both the federal and the state financial aid end at five years. I do appreciate that my predecessor put the 15-to-Finish flat rate in,” Moore said. “But I think students should take full advantage of the eighteen hours and, if they aren’t doing well in a course, then they could consider letting it go…and they’ll still have the fifteen.”
President Moore also encourages anyone who is financially struggling with a GPA of a 3.0 or above to look into the Presidential Achievement Award, which has generated a lot of positive feedback since he began the program.
The primary reason in this early decision to increase tuition and fees was to increase enrollment.
“The sooner we can get out your award letters, the sooner you’ll make the decision on whether you’re coming back to NSU,” Moore said. “We wanted to set fees early….Our goal is to get our award letters out as soon as possible, so students and prospective freshmen would know what they were awarded. We still expect to be extremely competitive in terms of total cost of the institution.”
In fact, the university is anticipating an increase in enrollment, perhaps even a dramatic one.
“We are way ahead on applications. We are way ahead on acceptances, and we’re hoping that we can actually increase our yield,” Moore said.
As well as increases to in-state undergraduate students, graduate students will also face an increase in tuition and fees. With these increases, President Moore still expects NSU’s graduate programs to be among the most affordable in the region. That’s because certain programs are receiving research grants, which offer stipends to graduate students who participate in these programs. The state has also increased graduate financial aid as well.
This will be the third year in a row that out-of state students will not face an increase. While schools can charge out-of-state students whatever amount they choose, President Moore felt that out-of-state students were shouldering too much of the financial burden when he came into office and he’s been trying to level that burden out. He also feels this will help in recruitment of out-of-state students, who could be a larger piece of the enrollment pie in the future.
The increase in tuition and fees will generate some operating capital, but there are other financial obligations. “It will generate operating capital, but it will probably all go to addressing existing costs,” Moore said.
President Moore is trying to keep the costs away from students and more on alumni and friends of the University, like corporations.
In his 25 years working at higher education institutions, President Moore has grown to accept that the state only takes responsibility for bare necessities of a university: “the meat and potatoes” he said. Everything else is left in the hands of the university and the parents. Unfortunately, less than 12 percent of alumni make contributions to Norfolk State.
“Alumni need to place Norfolk State in their budgets. If we’re raising just under 3 million a year with 11 percent contribution, what would we raise if we could get that to 55 percent or 77 percent? We just need to do a better job of reminding our alumni and friends of the current sacrifices our students are making,” Moore said.
“We’ve made appeals to our alumni, faculty, and staff to make contributions through investment or giving to the university. The financial aid at NSU we would like to see increased. Last year, we were able to do a Presidential Achievement Award that was just based on academic GPA; if it was above 3.0, you received an award. We’re hoping that we can find the private lending to continue that,” Moore said.
One idea that President Moore is considering is raising ticket prices for games and events in order to lighten the burden on current students, whose attendance at events is already paid for through their fees. Moore said increased student participation at those events could help justify such an increase on non-students through basic supply-and-demand.