RICHMOND — A bill that would allow the University of Virginia’s College at Wise to offer reduced tuition rates to any students from the Appalachian region passed the House of Delegates on Tuesday.

HB 1666 from Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Scott, came at the request of the college, which is hoping that by offering lowered tuition rates to out-of-state students, it can combat declining enrollment.

The federally defined Appalachian region extends from northern Alabama to southern New York, covering all or part of 13 states. Offering a reduced rate to students in that region would bring those students close to or equal to receiving the in-state tuition rate.

Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City, spoke in favor of the bill because he said boosting the enrollment would be valuable to the coalfields community that is looking to revive its economy.

“It’s a beautiful community, it’s a beautiful campus, and we’ve got to get bodies onto that campus,” he said.

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