|West Virginia, among the lowest number of college and university graduates, has had the average tuition increased by about $4,200 a year, or roughly 147 percent, in the past 15 years,according to the WV Center on Budget and Policy.|
The highest rate of increase in that time period was at Glenville State College, where tuition went from $2,700 to $7,344, a 172 percent increase, according to the report.
Charleston lawmakers are debating how much higher education should be cut in next year's budget.
The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy said incremental increases eroded how much of a student's tuition financial aid programs are able to cover.
"I think this is important to be aware of in a state like West Virginia, which has the lowest level of college-educated adults in its workforce, higher education is one of the areas we should be investing in, not cutting," said Sean O'Leary, a senior policy analyst at the center.
"The proposals that have come out of the Legislature this year all have further cuts to higher education," said O'Leary.
In his first State of the State address, Gov. Jim Justice proposed cutting state funding to West Virginia University and Marshall University by 4.4 percent each, which would be roughly $5.9 million and $2.8 million respectively.
The House Finance Committee got a glimpse of what could be the House's budget for next year. It kept the cuts Gov. Justice proposed, while also cutting $1.28 million from community and technical colleges and about $5 million more from other four-year colleges.
"The colleges can use tuition increase to make up for those cuts, and that's exactly what we've been seeing," O'Leary said. "I think we're starting to get to the point now where tuition increases have really made colleges a lot less affordable than it use to be."
His report, which pulled data from the Higher Education Policy Commission, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education, does not take into consideration fees or the cost of room and board.
Had the cost of tuition kept pace with the rate of inflation, O'Leary said tuition would have increased only 33 percent from 2002 to 2016.
Some education experts say the problem with college debt is ever increasing in the USA.
See WV HAS DECLINING COLLEGE GOING RATE - COLLEGE ENTRY RATES FOR 55 COUNTIES 2009-2013