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W. Va. plan to cut college tuition at university students expense. (around the nation).

CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- A statewide tuition proposal under consideration would force students at every four-year college in West Virginia to pay more while benefiting those who attend community colleges.

The proposal before the Higher Education Policy Commission would tie tuition and fees to the actual cost of educating a student.

If passed, increases in tuition for in-state, four-year undergraduates would range from 8 percent -- $166 -- at Concord College, to 72 percent -- $1,261 -- at Bluefield State College.

Those rates would increase 21 percent -- $422 -- at Marshall University, and 51 percent -- $1,054 -- at West Virginia University.

The four-year tuition rate for undergraduates would be set at 40 percent of the cost of educating them. Chancellor J. Michael Mullen said the commission also would consider adjusting the rate to 35 percent.

"We're sensitive to the fact that increases have to be reasonable," Mullen said. "There's a sense that the size of the increase might be more than (West Virginia's) per capita income could bear."

Community college students would benefit the most, with a 25 percent rate. That translates to a tuition drop for in-state students ranging from $67 at West Virginia State's community college to $407 at Glenville State's community college.

Also, the rate would be 45 percent for doctoral students and 40 percent for students pursuing master's degrees. Medical students would pay an amount equal to the median of other public medical schools.

Out-of-state students would pay 100 percent of their instructional costs. At Shepherd College, where 30 percent of students are from outside West Virginia, it would amount to a $1,151 tuition increase.

"We don't want to price ourselves out of the market," said Ed Magee, Shepherd's vice president for finance.

The Legislature ordered the commission to come up with a statewide tuition policy. Mullen's staff suggested linking tuition to the cost of education.

If the policy passes, there would be plenty of room for discussion, Mullen said.

"Maybe some town forums on campuses or TV, to allow students and parents to comment on the policy," he said. "We just need to get some sort of a proposal out there for people to work against."

Most of the college presidents who commented on the proposal don't like it.

They said the classifications are too complicated and would encourage overspending on instruction.

Some presidents say each school should control its own tuition, while others want a uniform tuition and fee system.

The issue must be resolved so the commission can make a recommendation to the Legislature before next year's budget is drafted, Mullen said.
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Title Annotation:West Virginia
Publication:Community College Week
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U5WV
Date:Mar 4, 2002
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