news pressure cooker gmu votes to issue credits to in state students despite budget shortfall

Pressure cooker: GMU votes to issue credits to in-state students despite budget shortfall

GMU tuitionThe Youngkin administration set a goal to get all public Virginia colleges and universities to hold the line on tuition increases for in-state students.

On Thursday, the George Mason University Board of Visitors voted to issues credits to in-state undergraduate students equal to the 3 percent tuition increase the board had previously approved for the current academic year. The credits will create a total budget shortfall for GMU of nearly $6 million for the current fiscal year.

The credits, equal to $285 for full-time students, will be prorated for those currently enrolled in fewer than six or more than 15 credit hours. The credits will effectively bring in-state undergraduate tuition levels back to $9,510 for this year, down from the previously approved $9,768.

GMU joins the University of Virginia and others who have issued a credit to students for the 2022-23 academic year under pressure from the governor’s office to meet his goal.

“Early on in my administration, I encouraged all colleges and universities to take on this challenge and I am pleased that now all of Virginia’s students will have the opportunity to pursue their higher education at every public college, university, and community college in the Commonwealth free from tuition hike fears,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin, in a statement released today. “I’m grateful to the boards and the presidents of these institutions, this is a critical step in easing the burden on Virginia’s families and students during a time of high inflation and cost of living.”

The decision at the Fairfax County-based university comes despite several factors that have made George Mason disproportionately impacted by the effects of such a reversion, and after extensive discussions with the Youngkin administration, according to a news release from GMU.

“Mason has always championed the ideal of holding tuition for students as low as possible,” said GMU president Gregory Washington in the release. “That is why the Board of Visitors froze undergraduate tuition for last year. And they did so despite operating in the most costly and competitive market in Virginia, and despite the fact that Mason has for years received substantially less funding per student than any of our fellow four-year doctoral universities in Virginia.”

Mason will apply the fall tuition credit in mid-November to in-state undergraduates. Fall credit balances will apply against spring charges, except for Title IV recipients or students who do not return for spring.  Those students will receive refunds starting in November, through the end of January. The spring credit will post along with spring tuition charges, according to the release.

“This year’s original increase was the result of a careful effort to strike a balance between maintaining a quality experience for students while limiting the economic impact on Virginia families,” said Horace Blackman, rector of the George Mason Board of Visitors. “Mason will now work to rebalance operations based on this new cut, with our commitment to minimize negative impacts to the community.”

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.