GMU President: Let Them Eat Cake


    Is in-state tuition in Virginia too low?

    Alan Merten, president of George Mason University, teetered down the steps of his ivory tower and told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that “in Virginia, tuition is still very inexpensive” while pleading for the power to raise tuition without interference from the stingy likes of the General Assembly. It would comfort us as we stare into the cavernous emptiness in our wallets if that was remotely true, but Virginians actually pay the 15th highest in-state tuition, well above the national average.

    When classes begin next Monday, we the students of GMU, the 143rd Best University in America will shell out a “very inexpensive” $8,684 a year in tuition and fees. 50% of us will walk across the stage at graduation with a diploma in hand and $19,528 in debt, a burden that has risen 25% since 1997.

    I shouldn’t be so hard on our esteemed president because most of this is not his fault. He and the George Mason University Board of Visitors are caught in a bind. Feckless legislators have shifted the burden pf funding our Commonwealth’s higher education from state coffers to universities themselves by cutting funding to the bone, but threaten to vote down funding if the universities raise tuition to cover for the loss. Legislators return home to their districts to whine about tuition increases while universities raise tuition anyway. Disingenuous legislators propose limiting out-of-state students who help subsidize the in-state students who the state ought to be paying for.

    There may be many solutions to the spiraling cost of higher education, but insisting that costs in Virginia are still fairly low is neither true nor helpful.

    • Kenton Ngo

      …that the USNews rankings are spectacularly useless, but that’s for another post.

    • jack russell

      There are many schools out there where the tuition is twice that.  40K$/year or more.  I suspect that was also a symptom of the easy-money days – they expected parents to borrow up to their eyeballs to pay for it.  The schools will oftentimes offer some aid (like cutting tuition in half, which still leaves a 20K$/year nut to crack).

      So in a way, I wouldn’t blame the State that much – the problem is endemic at colleges and universities all over the nation.  That’s how they come up with the statement that Mason is a relative “very inexpensive”.

    • martinlomasney

      in 4 years while your tuition increases out pace inflation.

      Merten’s administration of GMU has been a disappointment and his compensation’s too damn high.

      Compared to other nearby States, North Carolina and Pensylvania, Va.’s public universities charge too much for lousy performance. 9 of Va.’s 13 public universities have graduation rates below the national average.  CNU only graduates 12%.  That’s right 7 of 8 CNU freshman don’t graduate in 4 years!!

      If high school principals had that kind of performance, they get canned.

      These pathetic graduation rates should be an embarassment but all Merten wants to talk about is higher tuition to support higher compensation for him and his failing faculty.

      Jack Russell, please identify for me any public university that charges in-state students $40,000.  


    • totallynext

      when we can get in to a VIRGINIA higher learning institution @ all.

      I thought that was the burning issue of 2009 with the Republicans – especially the NOVA repukes.

      Any change any movement in the general assemble… NO

      there should be a mandated high % of slots for Virginia residence – regardless of tutition difference.  Because it then just becomes a numbers game – always increase tutition on both sides of the equation.