The average cost of tuition at West Virginia’s public universities and colleges has doubled in the past 15 years, according to a new report.
The West Virginia Center on Budget Policy released a report Monday showing average tuition has increased by about $4,200 a year at the state’s four-year colleges and universities since 2002, media outlets said.
That’s a roughly 147 percent increase, which outpaced the rate of inflation during that same period.
According to the report, continued decreases in state funding to schools have caused tuition to rise rapidly, thus making college less affordable than it used to be.
“I think this is important to be aware of in a state like West Virginia, which has the lowest level of college-educated adults in its workforce, higher education is one of the areas we should be investing in, not cutting,” said Sean O’Leary, a senior policy analyst at the nonprofit police research organization.
Right now, state lawmakers are debating how much higher education should be cut in next year’s budget. Among the proposals from the Republican-majority leadership have been $150 million in cuts to higher education, the state’s public K-12 system and the Department of Health and Human Resources.
Had the cost of tuition kept pace with the rate of inflation, O’Leary said tuition would have increased only 33 percent from 2002 to 2016.
“To make college more affordable and accessible, the state will have to restore adequate funding to public higher education institutions in the state and explore other ways to reduce the costs of higher education,” the report said.