Longwood University’s Board of Visitors has approved tuition and fee increases for the 2018-19 academic year of 4.9 percent, including a new financial incentive that will reward students for taking a full course load – a national best practice that has been shown to improve academic outcomes including time-to-degree and graduation rates.

Over the last five years, Longwood’s cumulative cost increases have been among the lowest in the state, and this year’s increase is in line with the average of other increases announced at Virginia institutions this year.

“We recognize that higher education is not just an important investment but for many families and students a real sacrifice,” said President W. Taylor Reveley IV. “Even as we face challenging inflation in unavoidable costs like employee health care, we are deeply focused on channeling every possible dollar into the student experience. We are also providing more and more money each year to student financial aid to ensure the price students actually pay to attend Longwood remains affordable.”

Support for student aid is Longwood’s top philanthropic priority. Over the past two years, the number of incoming Longwood students offered need-based aid has increased roughly 73 percent. Altogether, about half of Longwood students receive some form of grant assistance that lowers what they actually pay.

Under the plan approved Friday by the Board of Visitors, Longwood will also for the first time offer a discount of $250 to any student who takes 30 credits over the course of the year starting next fall, including summer and intersession. If used for four years, such an incentive could save students $1,000.

More broadly, graduating on time is one of the most effective ways for students and families to minimize the full cost of college.  A wide body of national research shows that students who take a full course load of 30 credits annually are more likely to graduate overall and on time, and similar course load incentives have become increasingly common at U.S. colleges and universities as part of student success initiatives. There’s even strong evidence that among similarly prepared students, those who take 30 credits per year earn higher GPAs.

Another benefit to such incentives is that federal financial aid typically offers no extra benefits beyond 12 credits per academic term. So the new discount – which will apply to any student’s 30th credit – will make it less expensive for low-income students who receive Pell Grants and want to take more than 12 credits per term to afford it.

“Most of our students already take 30 credits per year, especially those who make use of summer and intersession, and this will help them with costs,” Reveley said. “We also know that not all students’ circumstances allow them to take 30 credits. That’s why this is just one prong in our broad-based strategy for student success, including increased financial aid and a new university-wide coaching program debuting next fall. However, we know from our own experience and national research that there’s a body of students who can take 30 credits and would benefit, but have been reluctant to try. We hope this encouragement will help get students to the graduation finish line faster, more efficiently and with less debt.”

The charge for tuition and mandatory fees for in-state undergraduates carrying a full course load in 2018-19 will be $13,340 per year (or $453 per credit) inclusive of a $250 discount applied to the 30th credit. Out-of-state undergraduates will also be eligible for the discount. Including that credit, out-of-state tuition and mandatory fees will rise 5.93 percent, to $29,300 for a full course load in 2018-19.     

The value of Longwood’s educational program substantially exceeds what families pay, with public funding and philanthropy providing approximately an additional $30 million annually to Longwood’s budget to support its educational program and student experience.

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