Students at the University of the Virgin Islands will face a five-percent increase in tuition when school opens in fall 2013 after the UVI Board of Trustees approved a tuition increase Saturday at its quarterly meeting, the university announced.
The board, meeting on the university's St. Thomas campus, also approved a record fund-raising goal after the school set a new mark for alumni giving during the previous fiscal year, and established a bachelor's of science degree in psychology to promote the marketability of UVI grads in research careers and better prepare them for post-graduate study.
The required courses for the bachelor of science degree in psychology will be similar to those for the existing bachelor of arts degree in the subject, but will increase the required mathematics and science courses, according to the university.
According to the news release from UVI, the five-percent tuition increase will add about $100 a semester to the cost of an average student's tuition, and is expected to generate an extra $500,000 for the university.
"Institutions cannot survive without having regular tuition increases," said Dr. David Hall, president of the university.
Hall noted that funding levels from the U.S. Virgin Islands government have decreased, while the cost of implementing the school's five-year strategic plan have increased funding needs.
Hall called the increase "fair" and "reasonable," and said he did not expect it to have a negative effect on the school's ability to attract students. In forums to discuss the proposed increase on both campuses, students did not reject the proposal after the circumstances were explained.
"Our students understand it and accept it," Hall said. "Without this we have no resources to address basic needs. ... Even in challenging times we have to make hard decisions."
The increase will set tuition for a part-time undergraduate students at $140 per credit for residents, $420 for non-residents. Full-time undergrads will pay $4,190 per year for residents, $12,570 per year for non-residents.
For graduate students the cost will be $350 per credit for residents, $700 per credit for non-residents.
The board set the fund-raising goal for the 2013 fiscal year at $3.4 million, a $500,000 increase over the previous year.
In 2012 Hall challenged the university to reach the 50 percent mark in alumni giving – to get donations from half the alumni. While the fell slightly short of that goal, the 42 percent they achieved was a remarkable increase from previous years, Hall said.
"We are just very appreciative of the response our alums showed to this particular campaign," the school president said.
The previous year, only 16 percent of UVI alumni donated to the school, and in three years the rate increased from six percent to 42.
Hall compared UVI's 42 percent rate to the 20 universities with the highest rates, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report magazine.
"Of those universities in the top 20, very few of them are above the mark that we've reached," Hall said.
The board also voted to grant president emeritus status to former UVI President LaVerne Ragster. Ragster was the university's fourth president and first female president.