Faculty, Staff Briefed on Budget Issues

Posted: March 7, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

Because of uncertainty at the state level, there are still some aspects of the budget that aren’t known, but what is known is that units at George Mason will not see additional reductions, there will be a “fairly substantial” tuition increase next fall, and there will be some action taken on salaries this year, Provost Peter Stearns told faculty and staff at a special meeting to discuss the budget yesterday.

Stearns, along with Senior Vice President Maurice Scherrens, briefed staff on the budget plan that administration will present to the Board of Visitors (BOV) on March 27. The plan may need to be changed based on General Assembly action at the April 2 veto session, and, if so, the BOV will have a special meeting in April to make adjustments.

State employee salaries are scheduled to increase 2.25 percent if state revenues meet a target by August 2003. If state funding fails, George Mason will still try to grant some salary increases to address “inequity, reclassification, and unusual merit” Stearns said. The university will also cover some health insurance increases.

While state legislation has put a 5 percent cap on in-state undergraduate tuition increases, the exact amount of the increase will depend on which figure the state uses to determine George Mason’s base tuition. With increases in all other tuition categories–out-of-state, graduate, and professional–George Mason will be able to increase financial aid, cover the $5.5 million budget cuts already slated for 2003-04, and return some funds to units to help compensate for earlier cuts.

In a departure from earlier plans to substantially increase enrollment at George Mason, Scherrens said the budget situation now precludes such growth. He added that students transferring from Northern Virginia Community College, for example, will likely need a higher GPA than in the past to be accepted at Mason.

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