WASHINGTON — A pair of Virginia state senators wants the University of Virginia to freeze tuition, citing a massive investment fund controlled by the school that is worth billions of dollars.
In a letter written to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors, Democratic Sens. Chap Petersen and Scott Surovell, who represent the City of Fairfax and Fairfax County, called for the tuition freeze effective Jan. 1, 2017.
“There is no reason to have a surplus of operating funds, at least of that size, unless you are systematically overcharging for services,” wrote Petersen.
Both senators say money from the Strategic Investment Fund, worth $2.3 billion, should be returned to students and families through lower tuition.
“The most appropriate policy would be freezing or reducing tuition at all of the university’s schools including graduate programs until this reserve is reduced to a more appropriate level,” Surovell said.
The university has defended the fund, saying it was established in February primarily using investment returns and not through the use of tuition or public funding. The university says it has the potential to generate vast amounts of money to improve the school community in various ways.
“The Strategic Investment Fund could allocate as much as $100 million annually for initiatives with the highest promise to significantly improve the University and enhance quality and access for students,” said University of Virginia Board of Visitors Rector William H. Goodwin Jr.
Goodwin said the money could be used for everything from new equipment and research labs to the recruitment of faculty talent.
“The possibilities are endless,” he said.