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WVU board approves pay freeze, tuition hike

MONTGOMERY, W.Va. - West Virginia University's Board of Governors on Thursday approved both a pay freeze and a tuition hike in efforts to offset deep cuts made by the state Legislature earlier this year.

The university expects to lose $18.5 million in revenue for fiscal year 2014, which begins in July.

That includes a $13 million cut from the Legislature, a $1 million decline in soda pop taxes, and about $4.4 million in personnel, equipment and planning costs.

State appropriations to WVU will fall from $210.3 million in 2013 to $196.2 million in 2014. Lawmakers made deep cuts across state government this year in efforts to reduce costs and shore up the budget.

Narvel Weese, vice president of administration and finance, told board members the university plans to make up those cuts by eliminating salary increases and cutting central costs, like WVU's printing operation. Those efforts are expected to save $8.6 million and $1.7 million, respectively.

Related: WVU Board approves purchase of land for baseball stadium

WVU hopes to regain the remainder of its lost income by asking each department to tighten its budget, delaying the hiring of non-essential employees, reducing travel expenses and cutting supply costs.

The university hopes to bring in $19.6 million extra in tuition and fees in 2014, compared to fiscal year 2013's budget.

Although the Board of Governors approved all the increases, any increase over 4.99 percent must now be approved by the state Higher Education Policy Commission.

Tuition increases differ for resident and non-resident students, as well as undergraduate and graduate programs. If approved, tuition and fees for most in-state undergraduate students will jump $183 this fall to $3,228 per semester, $6,456 per year.

Some programs would see bigger increases, however. Tuition for physical activity and sports science students, for instance, would increase by $296 per semester, to $3,456 per semester and $6,912 per year.

The board also approved a 4.5 percent tuition increase for undergraduates at WVU Tech, which will not need HEPC approval. Tuition and fees for most in-state students will increase to $2,904 per semester, or $5,808 per year.

Tuition and fees for WVU's average in-state graduate students will increase almost 6 percent to $3,609 per semester, although some graduate programs will see larger increases.

Weese said the university would continue to look at ways to trim costs. He said WVU would ask each vice president to come up with a 10 percent cut to their department budget for fiscal year 2015.

"Time is your friend here. Time gives us the option to address the cuts more strategically," he said.

Weese said future cuts to WVU's budget by the Legislature would be "devastating," however.

"I'm not sure how we'd survive that. It'd be a game changer," he said.

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or zack.harold@dailymail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ZackHarold.

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