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UMass unveils state funding request for Fiscal Year 2014

Pursues goal of equal funding from state and students

BOSTON - The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees finance committee today approved a $480 million state funding request for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2013.

The funding being sought would represent a $36 million increase over the current UMass state appropriation of $444 million and would constitute a major step toward realizing the University's goal of returning to a posture where the state provides at least 50 percent of the funding for the University's education programs.

"We believe that a 50-50 approach to funding our core educational budget is the best path for our students, their families and for the Commonwealth," UMass President Robert L. Caret said. "We also recognize that the state continues to face fiscal challenges that create funding impediments that are frustrating for all parties concerned. While we are cognizant of the challenges, we continue to hold out 50-50 funding as an important goal and as the best approach for providing the Commonwealth with an informed, educated and productive citizenry."

Five years ago, in Fiscal Year 2008, the state provided 57 percent of the funding for UMass educational programs and students and their families contributed 43 percent via tuition and fees. In the current Fiscal Year 2013, the percentages are reversed, with students providing 57 percent and the state 43 percent of the $1.35 billion needed for educational programs.

Financial projections show that UMass would require $50 million in additional total state funding in Fiscal Year 2014 and an additional $50 million in Fiscal Year 2015 to reach a 50-50 funding balance. UMass would reach the year-one goal as a result of receiving the $36 million appropriation increase being sought and by the state increasing fringe-benefit funding for the University by nearly $14 million.

The Board of Trustees' Committee on Administration and Finance voted on the University's Fiscal Year 2014 budget request the day after Governor Deval Patrick announced that slumping state revenues and other factors were forcing him to take steps to curb state spending - an action that would translate into a 1 percent reduction in state funding for UMass during the current Fiscal Year 2013.

"Like so many others, we hoped and expected that the state's fiscal picture was going to brighten considerably this year. Clearly, that does not appear to be happening, but we believe it is important to advance our 50-50 goal as a means of eventually easing financial pressures on students and their families and stemming the rise of student debt," President Caret said.

In addition to the merits of seeking an equitable distribution of funding between students and the state, President Caret said a number of factors are driving the need for additional state funding, including rising debt payments stemming from the University's ambitious and essential $2.4 billion campus building program of the past decade and surging enrollment across the five-campus UMass system.

"As more and more Massachusetts families look to UMass for high-quality educational programs, we need to be ready to address their needs and meet their high expectations," he said.

While UMass is making the case for more funding, it also continues to glean operating efficiencies wherever possible.

In recent years, the University has saved $20 million as a result of revamping its purchasing practices and expects to save an additional $4 million in this area this year. The University also expects to achieve significant additional savings as a result of energy- and technology-efficiency initiatives now under way.

While UMass continues efficiency efforts that have been ongoing for more than a decade, it also is taking steps to increase public awareness of its priorities and performance.

In a recent speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, President Caret announced that he will institute a system-wide performance report that will measure the University's progress in six key areas and will be made available to the public online and in booklet form.

"Ultimately, efficiency and accountability go hand in hand, and we are committed to progress and success in both areas," President Caret told an audience of civic and business leaders.

The funding request approved today by the Committee on Administration and Finance goes to the full Board of Trustees when it meets on December 12 at UMass Amherst.

Contact: Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073; Ann Scales, 617-287-4084


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Robert P. Connolly
Vice President for Strategic Communications and University Spokesperson
617.548.0238 (cell)
617.287.7073 (office)

Ann Scales
Director of Communications
617.838.3963 (cell)
617.287.4084 (office)

JoAnn Conley
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617.287.5538 (Office)

Jan Brogen
Senior Writer
617.287.4027 (Office)

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