George Mason University’s (GMU) Board of Visitors voted Thursday to refund a three percent tuition increase charged to undergraduates for the 2022-2023 academic year. GMU was the last holdout among Virginia’s public colleges and universities resisting Governor Glenn Youngkin’s call for a tuition freeze.
“Today, George Mason University joined the 14 other public college and university boards, which serve more than a quarter-million undergraduate college students in Virginia, by pledging to keep tuition flat for in-state students,” Youngkin said in a Thursday press release.
“Mason has always championed the ideal of holding tuition for students as low as possible,” GMU President Gregory Washington said in a separate 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.”
“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,” Rector of the GMU Board of Visitors Horace Blackman said. “Mason will now work to rebalance operations based on this new cut, with our commitment to minimize negative impacts to the community.”
At a February William and Mary convocation, Youngkin said, “I strongly urge our college and university boards to show restraint in tuition increases just as you have been doing during the pandemic.”
“William and Mary has demonstrated real leadership in this area, finding efficiencies, working through collaboration and expanding partnerships to control costs. There are ways to grow universities without growing tuition. And the reason this is important is, if we are not careful, we will price first generation students and those that come from low-income homes out of the market,” he said.
Earlier this month, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors voted to freeze tuition after originally resisting that change; that left GMU alone with its tuition increases. In the press release, GMU said it had been in extensive discussions with the administration, and the change will create a $5.8 million budget shortfall. The refund is $285 per full-time student.
“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. 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,” Youngkin said in his release.
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “George Mason University” by George Mason University.