Provost Peter Stearns and Senior Vice President Maurice Scherrens hosted a budget forum Thursday to discuss financial year 2012.

One of the topics was tuition for the upcoming year. As it stands right now, a 10.2 percent increase in tuition for in-state students and a 6 percent increase for out-of-state students would be necessary to remain solvent, though Guilbert Brown, chief budget officer for George Mason University, stressed that this is not a final figure and the administration is actively seeking ways to reduce the increase.

“This is not a done deal,” Brown said. “This is up to the Board of Visitors, and we are continuing to work on further review. This is something that Dr. Scherrens emphasized. We are not finished looking for ways to mitigate that increase.”

Stearns said he “would love to be able to reduce [the 10.2 percent] figure.” He said this is early in the process to be indentifying a figure and that the administration wants the final figure to be lower.

“We know it’s burdensome,” Stearns said. “We’re trying to do a lot of things to make sure it won’t be worse than that.”
Mason Press Secretary Dan Walsch said forums like Thursday’s are a great way to inform members of the Mason community of the budget.

“It’s a good opportunity to keep people in the loop as to where things are, what the university is thinking and what options we have,” Walsch said.

Stearns said it’s important to be open about the budget situation and that transparency creates a “decent mood.”
“The news isn’t great, but I think people appreciate being told what the situation is so they don’t have to speculate,” Stearns said. “I hope and believe that we’re quite candid about things, and I think the atmosphere is good.”

The budget is in a state of flux as support for the university’s general fund has decreased from 40 percent in 2008 to 25 percent currently.

“The 25 percent figure is the projected general fund support for the education and general budget in financial year 2012,” Brown said. “This budget covers most of the core instructional support activities. It does not include research or auxillary services like housing, dining and parking and it does not include capital outlay.”

The general fund, known as the education and general budget, is $390 million for financial year 2011. In financial year 2012, the figure is going to be approximately the same, Brown said.

“We’re not looking at a significant increase in the budget, we’re just looking at a shift in how it’s paid for,” Brown said.