ODU Students Speak Against a Possible Tuition Increase


ODU’s Board of Visitors in a 2019 meeting on tuition. The Board is the highest authority on campus. (Credit to Partners for College Affordability, 2019.)

By Justice Menzel, News Editor

One Governor-appointed, seventeen-member group controls the financial, electoral, and legislative landscape of Old Dominion: the Board of Visitors. They appoint the University President, develop all campus laws and regulations, and control any University funds traveling in and out of Norfolk. 


The Board of Visitors recently proposed a tuition increase “between 0 and 4.99%” for in- and out-of-state undergraduate students made effective in the summer of 2023.


On Mar. 16, at a public forum, students were allowed to address the board for three minutes with their concerns, as mandated by the Virginia State Code. Three undergraduate students made an appearance to speak with pre-written, pre-approved comments.


“A couple hundred dollars is the difference between being able to make rent, afford food, or focus more on the strong academics that show how great an institution like ODU is,” said second-year junior Blaizen Buckshot Bloom. 


“Just because we’re more affordable than the rest, doesn’t mean we can’t do everything in our power to keep [tuition] as low as possible for those currently enrolled.”


Another student, Diego Feliciano, urged the Board to remember students with individual issues. He proposed that waivers and scholarships to lessen the burden could be offered to qualifying students should the resolution be passed.


“I’m classified as an independent by FAFSA and I didn’t get that much from my family. It was very difficult at the beginning because I didn’t have any credit to get a loan, and that took a few years to develop that,” Feliciano said, “We generalize everyone in the same boat without thinking of those special circumstances.”


The proposal results from stagnating enrollment and a decrease in average credit hours taken per student. As a public university, ODU receives 54% of its annual operating budget from the state’s general fund but must meet the remaining 46% through tuition and other fees. The deficit could be neatly patched with a uniform tuition expansion. 


Despite any increase, ODU would remain the cheapest doctoral university in the state and raise tuition at lower rates compared to state powerhouses like Virginia Tech and the College of William and Mary. 


Student Tyler Rector opined, “With inflation going to 6%, that’ll affect faculty as much as it’s affecting students. We need to, as students, push our representatives to increase that pay for faculty without putting the burden onto students in this time of crisis.”


“When there’s so much financial burden from it, education doesn’t become an equalizer, it just becomes another burden,” Bloom stated.


The Board of Visitors will vote on the proposal at a meeting on April 21, 2023.