In an attempt to lower the cost of higher education in Virginia, Governor Youngkin’s administration is urging college presidents in the state to hold off on an expected bump in the cost of tuition.

According to a report from Richmond.com, Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera has called college presidents throughout the state, asking them to reconsider.

Of the state’s 15 public, four-year colleges, 10 plan to raise tuition between 3% and 4.7%: VCU, UVA, George Mason, James Madison, Mary Washington, Old Dominion, UVA-Wise, VMI, Radford and Longwood. Four are keeping tuition flat but raising fees: Virginia Tech, William & Mary, Virginia State and Norfolk State. Fees pay for specific needs, such as transportation, technology or athletics and can’t be used to fund faculty.

One school, Christopher Newport, hasn’t settled on a price.

“Our families, especially middle-class families, are just feeling the pressure right now with rising costs,” Guidera said in an interview Friday.

The conversations have been constructive and positive, she added, saying the school presidents share a commitment to keep college affordable. They’re working with their boards to make budget adjustments.

“It’s been collaborative,” one source said. “I think a lot of schools are going to do something.”

While college enrollment is down nationwide, Virginia colleges have seen diverging results. UVA and Virginia Tech are receiving record numbers of applicants, but Radford, Longwood and VCU have seen their enrollments slide.

The percentage of high school graduates who choose college has slipped from 71% in 2011 to 67% in 2019, and average student debt has reached $30,000.

Keeping tuition affordable helps convince the most talented students to stay in the state, Guidera added. The percentage of Virginia high school graduates going to out-of-state colleges increased in the past decade.

To keep costs low for Virginia residents, Virginia Tech announced a tuition freeze for its in-state undergraduates. Its out-of-state students, who pay far more in tuition and bring in a larger chunk of the revenue, have to stomach a 3% increase. Out-of-state students make up 30% of the student body.

Virginia Tech’s approach could serve as a model for other schools, a source said.

Hopefully these colleges oblige Guidera’s request and halt their tuition raise for the time being. Enabling Virginians to get a higher education is better for the state in the long term, which is better for both the colleges and the state as a whole.