Key Issues

« Back to key issues

VCU Budget Update

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Dear VCU community,

Today, the Board of Visitors received the university’s proposed budget for 2019-2020, including recommendations for student tuition and fees and employee compensation for the coming academic year.

As part of this proposed budget, I have recommended to the Board the following: 

  • No increase to tuition for 2019-2020 for undergraduate in-state or out-of-state students, with a $106 increase for mandatory fees. Any tuition increase for graduate and first-professional students would be modest. Increases to auxiliary fees, such as for housing and dining, would be capped at a cost-of-living rate for contracted workers.
  • For faculty, a 4 percent merit-based salary increase in FY 20, in addition to the 3 percent merit –based increase already received this fiscal year. University and academic professionals would also receive a 4 percent merit-based salary merit, in addition to the 1.5 percent merit-based increase already received this year. Classified staff, who received no increase this year, would receive a 5 percent increase (2.75 percent cost of living, 2.25 percent merit-based).


If you would like to review the proposed budget as presented to the Board, please visit The Board will vote on whether to adopt this budget during its May 10 meeting.

These budget recommendations come on the heels of a legislative session in which the General Assembly made significant investments in base operations ($6.8 million) and student financial aid ($3.4 million) for VCU. Their generous support allows us the possibility of moving forward without additional financial burdens for our students and their families and with more competitive compensation to recruit and retain the faculty and staff who advance our nationally premier teaching, research, and clinical missions. For this, we are grateful.

Despite these additional investments from the state, however, VCU still faces some budgetary realities. For example, with no new resources from tuition, we would need to make more than $5 million in strategic cuts to balance our budget.

Also, the proposed merit increases close only part of the gap in faculty compensation at VCU compared to our Tier 3 peers in Virginia. I will continue to make competitive compensation a presidential priority in the years to come under our new strategic plan.

And while we are pleased to offer a budget that holds the line on tuition for the coming academic year, we recognize that we must do more to make our university more accessible long term. We have already made significant progress, more than tripling institutional financial aid since 2008, and when we add the state’s ongoing support to local aid, it is a 10-fold increase. The Make It Real Campaign has also added nearly 300 new endowed scholarships and student support funds since 2012. I will continue to advocate for student access however I can, including through increased financial aid, as another presidential priority under Quest 2025.

This budget, if approved, would continue to build on VCU’s commitment to student success and timely graduation. Together, we have increased our six-year graduation rate by 37 percent since 2008, and we continue to close the gaps in graduation rates for historically underrepresented students. Our current first-year class is our largest and most-diverse ever and is poised to build on our legacy of national prominence in student success.

As the Board considers this proposed budget, I invite your input through our web portal between now and April 26. (If you have trouble with the link above, please copy and paste this address into your web browser:

I look forward to working with all of you as we continue to build a nationally prominent VCU.


Michael Rao, Ph.D.