Mason to study new William & Mary tuition freeze

Mason officials will be analyzing the new William & Mary tuition model this fall (photo courtesy of the College of William & Mary).
Mason officials will be analyzing the new William & Mary tuition model this fall (photo courtesy of the College of William & Mary).

In an effort to address the rising cost of higher education, the College of William and Mary approved a “tuition freeze” on April 19 for current students, meaning tuition rates will not be raised during a student’s four-years at the college, except to account for inflation. To help pay for the new policy, incoming freshmen will pay 14 percent higher tuition in the 2013-2014 school year.

 “As to the idea as a whole, I think it's great: It doesn't kick the can on fiscal problems, it opens more financial aid channels to more middle class families, and it provides families with more information--you know what tuition you will be paying your senior year as an entering freshman,” Alex Williams, student body president of George Mason University, wrote in an email. “It seeks to balance both sides of the equation: catering to the fiscal expectations of families while not sacrificing the university's quality. As a whole, it is an experiment; even the folks at W&M do not know exactly how this will play out in the coming years.”

For this year, fulltime Virginia resident students pay tuition rate of $9,420 per year at Mason and a rate of $15,463 per year at William and Mary.

Some at William & Mary are opposed to the plan because of its impact on future tuition raises.

“…I share the goal of bringing increased financial stability to the College, and I find much to like in this plan,” Peter Snyder, a member of the William & Mary Board of Visitors, wrote in an opinion piece, “That said, I simply cannot support the notion that tuition increases are the best possible strategy for moving the College forward, particularly during this time of painful economic stagnation. For that reason, I voted ‘no’ during the Board of Visitors meeting…”

Mason administration officials are analyzing the William and Mary budget model, but there is no plan to recreate it for the upcoming academic year at Mason.

Because Mason has different endowments, alumni and students than William and Mary, administration officials are uncertain whether the model could be applicable to Mason. Currently, Mason establishes tuition on a yearly basis and it varies based on the projected needs for the university in the upcoming year.

“George Mason is a complex and dynamic organization and critically important to thousands of students, businesses and the surrounding community,” Senior Vice President Jennifer Davis wrote in an email. “For the purposes of setting tuition, the administration and ultimately the Board of Visitors, examine all revenue sources (state funds, grants, tuition, etc) and anticipated expenditures (personnel expenses (faculty/staff) to deliver the instructional programs---and tries to achieve a balance. This is [a] very challenging exercise in this environment.”

For example, the tuition for the upcoming academic year will be up for discussion and approval at the next Board of Visitors meeting on May 8. Tuition is expected to receive a slight increase, with the understanding that more “multi-year financial models and strategies” will come into effect that reinforces the Mason vision and IDEA.

Ultimately, Davis sees the William and Mary tuition plan as an opportunity to be further explored this fall.

“It's an idea, something more universities must be willing to work with as they grapple with a new fiscal and pedagogical atmosphere,” Williams wrote in an email. 

Correction: Originally reported that William & Mary's tuition would be $5,214.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (4 votes)
Student Media Group: