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VA Schools Rely Heavily on Student Fees to Subsidize Programs - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Audit: VA Schools Rely Heavily on Student Fees to Subsidize Programs

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A state audit conducted by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission of how universities spend their cash finds Virginia schools are relying too much on student fees to subsidize programs that have nothing to do with hitting the books - that includes sports.

Lawmakers ordered the audit. Its recommendations go to the Virginia Council of Higher Education to come up with ways to reduce the cost of college for students.

Fees are the furthest thing from fourth-year student Theresa Hackett's mind. 

"I couldn't give you a good breakdown, no," said Hackett.

A new state audit breaks down those student fees. When it comes to funding Cavalier sports, Hackett and her fellow students are each paying $657.00 a year.

Lawmakers ordered the audit to review how Virginia universities spend money on the extras of college -  things like athletics, recreation, and dining.

"Relative to our peers in Virginia, the costs per student are pretty good. The fees are very important in terms of helping build a student experience that's valuable for the students," said McGregor McCance, spokesperson for UVA.

At UVA, 5 percent of tuition and fees goes to athletics. It's an average 12 percent across the commonwealth. The audit reveals every Virginia school subsidizes sports programs with student fees. Only men's basketball and football at UVA and Virginia Tech turn profits.

"The fact that we're able to have successful programs in athletics that attract a lot of fans helps us to mitigate the amount of fees we charge students," said McCance.

Fourth-year student Daniel Artin admits students bear the burden to fund the thrill of a game at Scott Stadium or John Paul Jones Arena, but he believes it's worth it.

"At the end of the day, when those programs get improved, it overall enhances the student experience here," said Artin.

The study encourages universities to find new ways to fund recreation and fitness facilities. The audit also directs universities to provide a line-item breakdown online and on tuition bills to show where student fees go - especially for athletics. 

To view all of the audit's findings, click here. 

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