VCU's Monroe Park Campus.
The VCU Board of Visitors on Friday voted to freeze tuition, extend university President Michael Rao's contract and authorized the VCU administration to consider mandatory vaccinations. (University Marketing file photo)

VCU Board of Visitors approves 2021-22 budget with no tuition increase

Board also authorizes the VCU administration to consider mandatory vaccinations, extends president’s contract.

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The Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors voted Friday to freeze tuition for in-state and out-of-state undergraduate, graduate and professional students for the 2021-22 academic year. This is the third consecutive year that the board has voted to freeze undergraduate tuition. 

The board also voted to increase some mandatory student fees in the 2021-22 academic year. The University Fee will increase by $107, the Online and Technology Fee will be combined with a net increase of $35 and the Health Service Fee will increase by $11. The increased fees are required to cover VCU’s portion of a 5-percent pay increase approved by the state to support student support positions in mental health, veteran services and advising, and to fund athletic scholarships.

Rate increases for the academic year, including those for housing, dining and parking, can be found on the Student Financial Services website. More information about the budget is available at

Typical in-state undergraduate students enrolled in 15 credits per semester will pay $15,028 in tuition and mandatory fees in the 2021-22 academic year. Out-of-state undergraduate students’ tuition and mandatory fees are set at $36,366.

“We recognize that many of our students and their families continue to face challenges from COVID-19,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “And we’re very pleased that careful and focused budgeting along with increased funding from the state have enabled VCU to hold the line on tuition again for the coming academic year, the third year in a row.”

The Board of Visitors also voted to authorize VCU’s administration to decide on vaccine requirements for the fall 2021 semester after thorough consideration. Senior leaders were instructed to consider the guidance of health and safety experts and to seek feedback from students, faculty and staff in their consideration of mandatory vaccinations.

VCU will begin by reviewing a requirement for students. The university will collect feedback from students to help make a decision in the coming weeks.

The board also extended Rao’s contract by two years, through June 30, 2026. Rao serves as president of both VCU and the VCU Health System.

In line with the 5-percent increase provided by the state to eligible VCU faculty and staff, the board also approved a 5-percent increase in his compensation.

Rao’s annual cash compensation is now $662,866. His deferred compensation is $262,500, and his housing allowance is $77,868. Unlike most universities in Virginia and around the country, VCU does not have an on-campus home for its president.

State and tuition dollars support $186,383 of the president’s compensation. VCU Health System and VCU foundations support the remainder.

“VCU and VCU Health faculty, staff and health professionals have performed exceptionally well managing the pandemic and returning to more normal operations. As a result, the board has approved a 5-percent salary increase for all eligible employees, including the president,” said Keith T. Parker, rector of the board. “Dr. Rao has been outstanding leading our two institutions, especially during an unprecedented, challenging time. The university and health system have carried out their missions and made progress on priorities such as access, affordability, student success and patient experience. The board is pleased with Dr. Rao’s performance and looks forward to continued success.” 

The board also approved the university’s 2022-28 six-year capital plan, among the most transformative in VCU’s history. Designed to align university and health system physical spaces with VCU’s mission and strategic goals, the plan will facilitate innovative transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary achievements; increase student enrollment and persistence; enhance patient experience; and support community partnerships. 

Projects in the plan are prioritized by need, and, due to the density of VCU’s urban campus, some projects in earlier phases must be complete or underway before projects in later phases can begin. The board approves a six-year capital plan every two years.

Also on Friday, P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D., vice president for research and innovation, updated the board on the launch of a six-year strategic plan to guide the university's research enterprise. The plan, developed by faculty members and administrators, will lead to societal impact through investments and commitments made in research and development, specifically in disparities and population-based research including community engagement.