CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Squeezed by continuing cutbacks in state funding and a declining pool of state high school graduates, some state colleges may not be able to survive long-term, Senate Education Chairman Robert Plymale said Tuesday.
"We've got some institutions that really are financially in trouble," Plymale, D-Wayne, told a legislative interim committee.
Plymale said prospects for a second year of 7.5 percent cuts in state appropriations, coupled with an ongoing steady decline in state high school students is forcing state colleges to compete for survival.
"Some institutions are going to be in dire straits in terms of keeping open, frankly, and institutions graduating at 25-27 percent rates are in trouble," he said.
According to figures from the Higher Education Policy Commission, four-year colleges with six-year graduation rates currently below 30 percent are Bluefield State, West Virginia State, and the West Virginia University Institute of Technology.
Asked to elaborate, Plymale said, "When you see what the budget projections are, with another 7 1/2 percent cut, it could be difficult for them."
The Tomblin administration cut state appropriations for many state agencies, including higher education, by 7.5 percent in the current state budget, and have asked agencies to submit 2014-15 budget proposals that incorporate another 7.5 percent spending reduction.
Other higher education issues discussed during legislative interim meetings Tuesday:
| A study of tuition cost data found that West Virginia University is the best in-state tuition bargain, compared to its peer institutions.
In-state tuition of $6,090 is 66 percent of the average tuition of its peer institutions, at $9,243 per school year.
At the high end, Shepherd University's $5,834 tuition is 85 percent of what its peer institutions charge in-state students.