UMass approves fee increase; in-state student cost to rise $826 on average
Plan boosts financial aid for students
BOSTON -Facing a $54 million Fiscal Year 2012 funding gap, the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees today approved a 7.5 percent fee increase for the upcoming academic year.
Under the plan, tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students next year will average $11,838, up from $11,012 during the past academic year - an average increase of $826 for students not receiving financial aid. Students receiving aid would pay less of the increase.
The fee increase, approved as Trustees met at UMass Boston, is not the University's only means of closing the budget gap. The $54 million gap will be closed with comparable amounts of new fee revenue ($26 million) and budget cuts ($28 million).
"Our challenge is to preserve quality for our students, while at the same time doing everything we can to maintain access and affordability. Addressing the budget shortfall with equal amounts of new fee revenue and budget cuts is a balanced and responsible approach," said UMass President Jack M. Wilson.
President Wilson also reaffirmed the University's commitment to increasing student financial aid. "Financial aid is the key to maintaining affordability and keeping the doors of opportunity open for our students. The Chancellors and I remain strongly committed to increasing need-based student financial aid. We have a demonstrated record of success in this area."
President Wilson and the University's Chancellors have pledged to devote 29 percent of the money generated by the fee increase to additional financial aid, which would entirely offset the effects of the increase for some students and blunt its effect for many others. At UMass, the average annual tuition and fee increase during the last eight years has been 5 percent, while at the same time UMass spending on student financial aid has increased 267 percent to $131 million annually.
Board of Trustees Chairman James J. Karam called the vote difficult but necessary. "This is not a decision that anyone takes lightly. However, the University's plan protects low- and middle-income students and families, while allowing us to maintain the level of quality we expect from a University ranked among the very best in the world."
The University's Fiscal Year 2012 funding gap is primarily attributable to the ending of the federal stimulus funds program, which this year provided the University of Massachusetts with $38 million in funding. Over the past two fiscal years, federal funds have helped offset state funding reductions prompted by the impact of the global financial crisis.
At today's Board meeting, President Wilson explained that although state officials have expressed strong support for the University, the entire state budget picture remains difficult.
Facing similar budget pressures, a number of other public universities around the country have approved tuition increases, with the University of Arizona raising tuition by 22 percent, the University of Florida 13.5 percent and the University of Hawaii 11.2 percent. The University of California has increased tuition by 8 percent, but California system President Mark G. Yudof recently warned that the state's public universities could be facing a 32 percent midyear tuition hike.
In March, the Times of London's 2011 World Reputation Rankings placed UMass 19th in the world. In addition, the University of Massachusetts is the 13th-highest ranked American university, according to the survey. Two other Massachusetts institutions appear in the global Top 20: Harvard, ranked first, and MIT, which placed second.
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