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Focus on Fairfax Newsletter of Delegate David Bulova
February 2009

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Thanks to everyone who came out last weekend for my Town Hall meeting. I always enjoy the opportunity to share what is going on in Richmond and to hear your thoughts on the issues affecting our community. For those of you who missed it, I have posted the presentation at

If you live in Fairfax County, please don’t forget to vote in the special election this upcoming Tuesday, February 3rd to choose the next Chairman of the Board. All normal polling locations will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. I have a personal favorite in this race, having known Supervisor Sharon Bulova, aka Mom, for nearly 40 years… No matter your persuasion though, please exercise your right to vote!

Back in Richmond, the pace has picked up considerably as cross-over looms. Cross-over – February 10th – is the date by which the House and Senate must act on legislation introduced in the originating body. Any surviving legislation then goes on to “the other side.”

The Higher Education Conundrum: As a member of the Higher Education Subcommittee, some of the toughest bills I have voted on this session are ones that propose to cap the percentage of out-of-state students that can attend public universities. One bill in particular (HB 1696) would cap out-of-state students for each university at 20%. The concern that many deserving in-state students are unable to attend the Virginia school of their choice is not lost on me – especially since I have two children that are less than a decade away from being college bound.

The problem, though, is that such a cap without an increase in State funding essentially amounts to the equivalent of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

By way of background, the proportion of in-state versus out-of-state students varies widely from university to university. The percentage of out-of-state students is relatively high at Virginia State University (34%), the University of Virginia (33%), and the College of William and Mary (32%), while it is relatively low at Virginia Commonwealth University (11%) and George Mason University (13%). The average for Virginia’s four year institutions is 19%.

While well meaning, placing a cap on out-of-state students has enormous consequences on the cost of in-state tuition. The average tuition (including mandatory fees) for an in-state student is $5,914. Sounds reasonable! However, this figure is kept low not because of State budget support, but rather because out-of-state students pay $17,198 – three times the amount of in-state students. As a result, fewer out-of-state students translate directly into either the need for more State support or higher tuition. According to the State Council for Higher Education, the 20% cap would require an additional $7.5 million in annual State general fund support and result in a tuition loss of $13.3 million.

Frankly, I believe that Virginia should provide more financial support. Many of our schools receive embarrassingly little to be called public universities. William and Mary receives only 18% of its operating support from public sources. Virginia Tech receives 29%. The University of Virginia receives a paltry 14%. However, until those figures are increased, we need to be careful about caps, or else many Virginians will find the cost of tuition to be out of their reach.

I’ll have lots more to report next week. In the meanwhile, don’t forget to vote on Tuesday!


David Bulova

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