George Mason Law School

Tuition divide remains

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October 9, 2007

1:59 AM

__With state funds factored in, out-of-staters still pay a 27.4 percent tuition surcharge__

p. Tuition rates are higher for out-of-state students than for in-state students, even with state tuition subsidies for in-state students factored in.

p. According to the College’s tuition for the 2007-2008 school year, out-of-state students pay $23,110 per year and in-state students pay $5,549 per year. Once the state subsidy for in-state students is added, the real cost of in-state tuition is $18,136 per student, making out-of-state tuition 27.4 percent more expensive than in-state.

p. “It is true that the state is not fully subsidizing in-state students,” Vice President for Finance Sam Jones said. “Much of this under-subsidization results from the periodic reductions in state funding that occur as the state deals with revenue shortfalls. We see this dynamic now as we face the potential for base budget reductions of $3 million. Historically, colleges and universities have served to raise tuition on all students to at least partially offset the impact of reduced state support.”

p. Jones confirmed that the Board of Visitors, the body with ultimate authority over tuition, is not considering raising tuition midyear to deal with the budget cuts.

p. “Under restructuring, the state reaffirmed the authority of the Board of Visitors to set tuition,” Jones said. “The state does sometimes create incentives for boards to keep tuition low, but in the end it should be a board decision as to what to charge.”
College President Gene Nichol agreed that the state was not paying enough per student.

p. “It’s quite common for out-of-state students to pay more for a public university education than residents do — even taking into account the state’s subsidy,” Nichol said. “Even by the state’s base adequacy formulation the College is under-funded by over $9 million a year.”

p. Nichol was careful to point out that the state is funding most of the construction costs of the new Integrated Science Center and the new School of Education building.

p. Financial aid is also more helpful to in-state students than out-of-state students.

p. “Financial aid is a separate matter, with some of the funding for undergraduate need-based aid coming from the state and some from private funds and other College sources,” Jones said. “Note that the state provides need-based aid only for in-state students. The state provides no financial aid for out-of-state undergraduate students.”

p. Jones believes that, for now, tuition should not be raised in hopes of a more higher-education-friendly budget in the future.

p. “What we would hope is that, over time, the state will continue, and even expand, its investment in higher education, reducing the pressure for future tuition increases on both in-state and out-of-state students,” Jones said. “Obviously this is not happening in the short run.”

p. For Nichol, tuition is just one of many crises facing the administration because of the budget cuts.

p. “Only about 18 percent of our budget comes from the state,” he said. “That’s not enough.”

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