What it covers: Where do my tuition and fees go?

The revenue from your tuition goes toward Virginia Commonwealth University’s instructional and student support programs (76%), institutional support (15%) and building/grounds maintenance (9%). COVID-19 has presented a unique set of challenges for everyone, and VCU is working to contain costs as well as increase student resources to accelerate their success.

The table below provides examples of what tuition supports. 

Instructional and student supportInstitutional supportBuilding/grounds maintenance
Student supportITLighting
Faculty supportHuman resourcesUtilities
ScholarshipsSafety and securityBuilding maintenance
InstructionFiscal supportGrounds maintenance
Public serviceReserves and contingenciesRecycling

Here’s what tuition doesn’t cover

  • Dining
  • Housing
  • Parking

What pays for the items not covered by tuition?

In addition to tuition, VCU charges mandatory fees to students to help supplement the costs for such things as technology support, universitywide events, recreational activities and athletics — all of which help create your full VCU experience. The description of these fees is found on the Student Accounting website.

Much of the funding for the new construction of classroom and instructional buildings comes from state funding provided specifically for each project. Virginia law does not allow shifting the funding for capital projects to other uses; in other words, funding for capital projects cannot be shifted to hire faculty or pay for other operating costs. In recent years, most of the capital projects funded by the state have been financed with state bonds, the proceeds of which are reserved under state and federal law for capital projects (i.e., new construction) only. 

What do the FY 2020-21 mandatory student fees support?

Mandatory fees are required for all full- and part-time students on both campuses. Full-time students pay a flat rate. Part-time students pay a per-credit-hour rate. 

The primary mandatory fee at VCU is the university fee, and it is used to support a number of activities at the university, including athletics, as more specifically set out below. There are several other fees that are charged for specific purposes. These are set out below, as well.

Table: Mandatory Student Fees

FY 2019-2020 mandatory student fees2019-20202020-2021$ Increase% Increase
University fee$2,035.00$2,137.00$102.005.0%
Athletics$810.00 $919.00   
University strategic initiatives and contingency$224.00 $162.00   
Parking and Transportation$79.00 $94.00   
Student union and recreational sports$601.00 $646.00   
Students services$321.00 $315.00   
Technology fee$83.00$85.00$2.002.4%
Library fee$70.00$80.00  $10.0014.3%
Health service fee$224.00$224.00    $0.000.0%
Student activity fee$90.00$90.00    $0.000.0%
Total mandatory fees (resident)$2,502.00$2,616.00$114.004.46%
Capital outlay fee (nonresident only)$660.00$690.00  $30.004.5%
Total mandatory fees (nonresident) $3,162.00 $3,306.00$144.004.6%


University fee: Supports recreational sports facilities, University Student Commons, campus development, career and counseling centers, student disability and student services center, intercollegiate athletics and other programs; full-time students pay a flat rate and part-time students pay a per-credit-hour rate.

Library fee: Sustains 24-hour services in James Branch Cabell Library, expands hours at the Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences, strengthens digital tools and supports operating costs for VCU Libraries; full-time students pay a flat rate and part-time students pay a per-credit-hour rate.

Technology fee: Supports universitywide technological initiatives; full-time students pay a flat rate and part-time students pay a per-credit-hour rate.

Activity fee: Supports educational, social, cultural and other student activities for undergraduate, graduate and professional students. These activities include the Student Government Association, sports clubs, student organizations and publications; full-time Monroe Park Campus students pay a flat rate and part-time students pay a per-credit-hour rate, and MCV Campus students pay a flat rate based on part-time or full-time enrollment.

Health fee (optional for part-time students): Covers unlimited visits to University Student Health Services, after-hours phone advice for urgent medical problems and most laboratory tests, but does not cover accidental injury, emergency room visits or hospitalization; part-time students who opt in must pay full fee.

Capital outlay fee (nonresident, on-campus students): As required by the State Appropriation Act, revenue used to reimburse the Virginia College Building Authority and the State Treasury Board; full-time students pay a flat rate and part-time students pay a per-credit-hour rate.

Specifically for 2020-21, the funds from the mandatory fee increases will support:

  • VCU Libraries annual increases for subscriptions to scholarly journals
  • Debt service

More detail about fees can be found on the Student Accounting website.

Tuition and fees calculator

Use the calculator tool to estimate the per-semester cost of attending VCU.

Go to the calculator.


Full list of fees

Visit the Student Accounting website for a full list of tuition, fees and other expenses.