Despite the variety of increases projected from Mason’s Office of Budget and Planning, one very important increase is missing: state funding.

In the budget forum held earlier this month, Mason representatives discussed the current state of the university’s budget.

The general word used to describe most changes was increase, including room and board, that has seen a 19 percent increase since 2001, and in-state undergraduate tuition which has increased by 104 percent since 2001.

Accompanying these increases is an overall university budget increase from $826.6 million last year to $888 million this year.

David Moore, the Director of Budget and Planning Analysis at Mason said this $61.4 million increase can be attributed to private funding, Educational and General (E&G) operating budgets, Auxiliary Enterprise operating budgets, research sponsored program activities, capital support and state financial aid.

Of the $61.4 million increase to the budget this year, state funding only makes up $0.8 million. Herein lies one very obvious decrease in Mason’s current budget. Since 2001, state funding has seen a 51 percent decrease.

“Similar to the rest of the nation, the Commonwealth of Virginia was affected by the economic downturn in 2008,” said Moore. ”During this downturn, the state reduced agency budgets to align with available resources. Higher education institutions were not spared from the budget cuts and this contributed to the decrease in state funding,” said Moore.

This decrease will be felt primarily in the pockets of students.

“The university’s current long range planning model estimates an increase of approximately 4.6 percent in fiscal year 2014 and 3.8 percent each year during fiscal year 2015-18,” said Moore.

These future predictions are all a part of the university’s plan to combat the current unpredictable economic climate. According to Moore, Mason’s moderate annual tuition increase is associated with replacing the loss of state funding, which resulted from previous state budget reductions.

Of course, none of these numbers are guaranteed.

“These increases, however, are modeled for planning purposes and are subject to General Fund support from the Commonwealth of Virginia and approval of tuition fees by the Board of Visitors,” Moore said.

It is because of these probable tuition increases that some limits on new initiatives through the current budget framework. However, he is confident Mason will be able to continue growth,” said Peter Stearns, University Provost.

Ultimately, Mason is constantly trying to balance a stable and supportive budget, while at the same time keeping students happy by maintaining affordable tuition.

“We will work hard to make sure the results do not hurt student experience at Mason, and we believe the approach is compatible with continued dynamism and excitement, just in a more challenging climate,” said Stearns.

However, with the current national and statewide economic climate, tuition increases are unavoidable to continue on the track to prestige that Mason has set itself.