CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The University of Charleston on Tuesday announced a tuition freeze for the 2013-14 school year, keeping costs for undergraduates at $19,500.UC-Beckley and UC-Martinsburg locations will continue using a pay-per-credit cost structure. Many course costs will keep their same rate, while some health science courses will see minor increases."While the University of Charleston is expanding its enrollment and locations, we are committed to holding down costs to be affordable," UC President Ed Welch said in a news release. "Attending a private university is a rewarding experience, but the perception of many Americans is that it isn't attainable. We want to show students and their families that earning your degree at UC is financially possible."The rate for UC tuition and fees at the Charleston campus is more than $5,000 below the national average for private universities in the United States, according to the school.This is the second year in a row UC has frozen costs -- uncommon for the state's universities.Over the past decade, students at the state's four-year public institutions have had their tuition raised by an average of more than 7 percent, according to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.Tuition and fees for in-state students at West Virginia University increased from about $5,400 to about $5,700 from 2011 to 2012. Marshall University has increased tuition within the past year by about $400 as well.Last year, the West Virginia State University Board of Governors also approved an 8 percent tuition and fee hike.Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has asked most state agencies to make cuts to their 2013-14 budgets, including 8.9 percent cuts for public higher education institutions. Those cuts would range from $419,427 at Potomac State College to $10.39 million at WVU.
However, the HEPC announced earlier this month that no cuts will be made to financial aid programs for students.The HEPC estimates that it takes about 30 percent of the average West Virginia family income to pay a student's tuition.West Virginia is supported less than most states when it comes to higher education, and the state has continued to shift more of the responsibility on students to pay their way over the past decade.Ten years ago, the state provided about 60 cents on the dollar for tuition revenues, according to the HEPC. In 2012, the state gave 34 cents on the dollar. The country's average is about 50 cents on the dollar.Reach Mackenzie Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4814.