Maybe you can explain this to me.
On May 5, I—along with my fellow GMU students—received a mass email from the university president, Alan Merten. This message was an attempt to justify the additional 6.6 percent increase in tuition and fees (after 115 percent over the last four years).
President Please-Sir-I’d-Like-Some-More Merten had this to say:
All of Virginia’s state colleges and universities are raising tuition and fees this year. Increases at other Virginia universities range from 9.9 percent at the University of Virginia to 5.5 percent at Virginia Commonwealth University, leaving George Mason somewhat below the average with a 6.6 percent increase.
Unfortunately, despite a slowly recovering economy, Virginia’s policy regarding funding higher education continues to shift the cost of higher education onto the student. Students now pay 57 percent of the cost of their education, compared to 39 percent three years ago.
Fine. Whatever. This is first and foremost among the excuses used by university administrators to justify gouging us.
So, needless to say, I was a little bit surprised when I read two Associated Press articles featured on the WTOP News website—Who Wins and Who Doesn’t in Va. Budget Battle and After a Long Battle, Final Approval Given to Va. Budget.
From this first article, we learn that the state colleges and universities are among the ‘winners’ in the new Virginia state budget:
State-supported colleges and universities, where legislators have looked to make cuts for several years to balance tight budgets, will get 176 million dollars more to help them address enrollment growth and fund basic academic programs.
Legislators hope the investment will stabilize tuition rates, which have soared the past three years to compensate for lost state support.
And from the second, we learn that the budget—which had not passed when the first article was written—had indeed been approved by the state legislature:
The House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a new state budget Friday, ending a historic impasse over taxation and funding for state government.
So, let’s recap: The state universities are going to receive, in total, 176 million dollars more from the state while simultaneously increasing tuition between 5 percent and 10 percent to cover the supposed gap in funding because the state keeps cutting back. Well the schools got by fine this year on the current tuition rates, why would they have to RAISE tuition to compensate for INCREASED state funding?
The first person to explain it wins an honorable mention in my next blog entry ;-)