Attending college is extremely expensive, and students often wonder where their tuition money really goes. George Mason University is a public university with over 34,000 students (About mason, 2017). Students pay a pricey toll each semester to attend college, but do they ever wonder how their tuition money is spent? Mason breaks down their tuition by credit hours, undergraduate vs. graduate, in-state vs. out-of-state, on campus vs. off campus, and extra fees. The George Mason University official websites provide important information on the cost of tuition at Mason, and how it is broken down.
The Student Accounts Office, and especially The Student Accounts Office website is an informative resource that provides information on the tuition and fees at George Mason University. For more information, go to: http://studentaccounts.gmu.edu/tuition-fees/
The full time undergraduate in-state 2016-2017 tuition rate is about $11,300 per year (Paying for college, 2017). It costs in-state students $5,550 to take 12-16 credits per semester. If the student surpasses 16 credits, then they will be charged $462.50 per credit over 16 (Student accounts office, 2014). The full time undergraduate out-of-state 2016-2017 tuition rate is about $32,582 (Paying for college, 2017). It costs out-of-state students $16,191 to take 12-16 credits per semester. If the student surpasses 16 credits, then they will be charged $1,349.25 per credit over 16 (Student accounts office, 2014). Keep in mind, this does not include extra fees, room and board, estimated transportation, personal costs, and additional costs, such as textbooks. Other extra fees include: course fees, new student fees, distant education fees, late registration fees, late payment fees, return check fees, auxiliary student fees, and collection of accounts fees (Student accounts office, 2014). These fees can add up quickly. Undergraduate students can choose to either live on campus, off campus, or commute from home. It is estimated to cost about $11,678 to live on campus, $12,186 to live off campus, and $4,370 to live at home per year (Paying for college, 2017).
Alongside room and board, students need transportation to get themselves places they need to go. Per year, it is estimated to cost about $1,346 if the student lives on campus, $1,722 if the student lives off campus, and $1,812 if the student lives at home, although these costs can be offset by using Mason’s shuttle system, as well as Fairfax County’s CUE Bus system (Paying for college, 2017). Personal expenses are also a necessity for college students. These expenses can include things like toiletries, groceries, healthcare expenses, etc. It is estimated to cost students on campus about $2,336, students off campus $3,186, and students at home $2,948 for personal expenses each year (Paying for college, 2017). Just when students think they have paid enough, professors require an abundance of textbooks. It is estimated to cost about $1,200 for textbooks per year (Paying for college, 2017).
The full time graduate in-state 2016-2017 tuition rate is about $10,232. The full time graduate out-of-state 2016-2017 tuition rate is about $24,170. Tuition varies depending on the students’ academic program (Paying for college, 2017). Much like undergraduate students, graduate student’s tuition does not include extra fees, room and board, estimated transportation, personal costs, and additional costs, such as textbooks. These extra fees are roughly the same compared to undergraduates. For the exact numbers, visit the George Mason University Admissions Office, Paying for College website mentioned in the caption below.
The Admissions Office, and especially the Admissions Office website is an excellent resource that provides a lot of information about paying for college. For more information, go to: https://www2.gmu.edu/admissions-aid/paying-for-college
George Mason University’s tuition is astonishingly different compared to other in-state universities and the average university tuition prices. Like mentioned previously, Mason’s undergraduate in-state tuition rate is $11,300. Radford University’s undergraduate in-state tuition rate is $10,081 (Tuition and fees, 2017). That is only about a thousand-dollar difference between tuition rates. On the contrary, Mason’s undergraduate out-of-state tuition rate is $32,582, and Radford University’s undergraduate out-of-state tuition rate is $22,162 (Tuition and fees, 2017). Mason’s out-of-state tuition rate is more than twice as much as the in-state tuition rate. There is also over a thousand-dollar difference between George Mason University compared to the average tuition rate at a public four-year college or university. The average 2016-2017 tuition at a public four-year college or university is $9,650. For more information, visit: https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-and-fees-and-room-and-board-over-time-1976-77_2016-17-selected-years
The cost of attendance at George Mason University, and other universities across America is continually rising. In the year 2000, it cost $3,756 for in-state and $12,516 for out-of-state students. In 2005, it cost $5,448 for in-state and $15,816 for out-of-state students. In 2010, it cost $8,024 for in-state and $24,008 for out-of-state students (College simply: mason tuition & cost guide, 2017). Now, like mentioned previously, it is up to $11,300 for in-state students and $24,170 for out-of-state students, and if it continues on the same path, the cost will most likely continue to rise even more over the years. At the Tuition Tell All seminar, J.J. Davis, Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance, and Rose Pascarell, Vice President of University Life communicated that there will be an approximate 5% increase on tuition rates over the course of the next four years (Tuition tell all, 2017). In Virginia alone, tuition at public colleges and universities has increased by $3,808, or 42.4% from 2008-2016. Overall throughout the country, four-year public colleges and universities tuition has risen by $2,333, or 33% since the 2007-2008 school year (Mitchell, M., Leachman, M., & Masterson, K, 2016).
There are many underlying causes why tuition is going up at this rate. Across the country, public colleges and universities have increased tuition to compensate for declining state funding and rising costs. These tuition increases are making college become less affordable. Now, the price to attend a four-year public college or university is growing significantly faster than the median income. Even though federal student aid and tax credits have risen, they are still falling short to cover the tuition increases. Prestige is also a reason for tuition prices to rise. Colleges and universities work like businesses, so they compete with one another to draw as many students to their institution as possible to make the most money (Mitchell, M., Leachman, M., & Masterson, K, 2016). Another reason why tuition is going up at this rate is that students demand more services outside of the classroom, and colleges and universities are providing more amenities to attract applicants. Money spent on student services has grown more than 20% at some of the top public universities (Selingo, J. J, 2016). The more the college attracts students, the more tuition money the college receives. Students are also shouldering much more of the cost of their degree at public colleges and universities. According to the Delta Cost Project, student tuition dollars at public research universities cover nearly 63% of educational costs. For more information, visit: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/01/22/why-the-price-tag-of-a-college-degree-continues-to-rise/?utm_term=.ba6d9dc8f65f
Since tuition rates are already high, and are continuing to rise, students are starting to raise the question, “Why does college cost so much, and where does our money go?” David Harirman puts together some costs involved in a college or universities budget, and where student’s tuition money is usually spent. Most students assume that it costs the most to employ faculty members, but even though instruction makes up the largest percent of college expenses, it only makes up 27% of costs at colleges and universities (Harriman, D., & Brown, M, 2015). Some of the other costs include: research, hospital services, auxiliary enterprises, institutional support, academic support, public service, operations and maintenance, student services, scholarships and fellowships, depreciation, and independent operations. These are just some of the areas where tuition money is spent, but it depends on the college or university exactly what percentage of the money is spent and where it is spent. For more information, visit: http://www.schoolmoney.org/college-tuition-where-does-the-money-go/
Even though Mason gives us a simple breakdown of their costs, regarding tuition, room and board, transportation, personal, and books; where the full amount of tuition goes remains a bit of a mystery. As the cost of tuition continues to rise at a speedy rate, more and more students will be asking where their tuition money really goes. The true breakdown of a college or universities spending may be called into question. There are studies and theories that attempt to break down where tuition goes in colleges and universities across the United States, but most colleges and universities will never specifically tell students exactly where their tuition money is spent.
About mason. (2017). Retrieved from https://www2.gmu.edu/about-mason
Branstetter, G. (2015, December 11). It’s time for colleges to show students where the money goes. Retrieved from https://www.dailydot.com/via/college-tuition-money-transparency/
College simply: mason tuition & cost guide. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.collegesimply.com/colleges/virginia/george-mason-university/price/
George mason university tuition, costs and financial aid – collegedata college profile. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.collegedata.com/cs/data/college/college_pg03_tmpl.jhtml?schoolId=1038
Harriman, D., & Brown, M. (2015, February 27). College tuition: where does the money go? Retrieved from http://www.schoolmoney.org/college-tuition-where-does-the-money-go/
How does gmu rank among america’s best colleges? (2017). Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/gmu-3749
Mitchell, M., Leachman, M., & Masterson, K. (2016, August 15). Funding down, tuition up. Retrieved from http://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/funding-down-tuition-up
Paying for college. (2017). Retrieved from https://www2.gmu.edu/admissions-aid/paying-for-college
Selingo, J. J. (2016, January 22). Why the price tag of a college degree continues to rise. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/01/22/why-the-price-tag-of-a-college-degree-continues-to-rise/?utm_term=.efde0950c471
Student accounts office. (2014). Retrieved from http://studentaccounts.gmu.edu/tuition-fees/
Tuition, expenses, and financial aid. (2015). Retrieved from http://catalog.gmu.edu/content.php?catoid=5&navoid=103 – tuit_fees
Tuition tell all. (2017). Seminar. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/document/d/13EhEx_f_JiMgVQXL1zsOh67DrCa0TJGxGmppU0xczR0/edit
Tuition and fees. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.radford.edu/content/student-accounts/home/accounts/tuition.html
Tuition and fees and room and board over time, 1976-77 to 2016-17, selected years. (2017). Retrieved, from https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-and-fees-and-room-and-board-over-time-1976-77_2016-17-selected-years