At a budget town hall on April 15, Senior Vice President J.J. Davis and Provost Peter Stearns discussed increasing student tuition and the 2014 fiscal year budget.
Tuition rates are expected to rise, however the exact amount of the increase is yet to be determined. Stearns hopes that it will be less than 4.2 percent, which is the expected increase for other Virginia public universities.
“As the state has reduced its taxpayer dollars to Mason and other institutions, we see, nationally, institutions move to a more tuition-based funding solutions,” Davis said. “So the state reduces its money, institutions of higher [education] have to find resources to fund faculty, staff. So increased tuition is a way to offset some of the budget cuts.”
Due to funding and enrollment changes, tuition will be increased in order to offset new costs set by the state. As part of the Virginia state budget passed by the General Assembly earlier this year, public higher education institutions are required to increase faculty salaries.
For fiscal year 2014, faculty wages will be $12 million of the total university budget.
“When the state gives a salary increase, it pays for slightly less than half of it, but we have to pay for half of it,” Stearns said. “They also have this year this 18-percent increase in health premiums. They gave us 2.3 million new dollars, they require us to spend six million new dollars, that’s why we are still in a difficult situation.”
The university is looking to other sources of revenue and hopes to grow its private donation base in the future. The budget will also be cut from around six to seven million dollars, with one percent being cut from each academic department.
Even with these changes, Davis assured students that Mason is still a cost effective university.
“We sit at the intersection of being a great value and a great return on investment,” Davis said.
The Board of Visitors will vote on the budget at their May 8 meeting in Mason Hall.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON CONNECT2MASON.COM