UMass distributes record amount of financial aid
The University of Massachusetts is directing a record amount of its own funds toward financial aid for students during the current academic year, distributing $169.2 million, primarily in grants, to help maintain affordability, access, and keep student debt manageable, UMass President Robert L. Caret said today.
``A majority of students need help paying for college, and we are making it abundantly clear by our actions that we are committed to ensuring access and affordability by channeling unprecedented amounts of our resources into financial aid,'' President Caret said. ``I commend the chancellors on all five of our campuses who are using limited resources to keep the doors of opportunity open across the UMass system.''
Institutional aid to UMass students, mostly in the form of grants, has more than doubled in the last few years, from $68.4 million in Fiscal Year 2006 to $169.2 million in Fiscal Year 2013. Overall, UMass students borrowed or were awarded a total of $763.7 million in all forms of financial aid in Fiscal Year 2013, double the $381.5 million distributed in Fiscal Year 2006, and 4.4 percent higher than the $731.4 million in Fiscal Year 2012.
University officials say the need for financial aid is growing, with more students applying for financial aid for the current academic year and more eligible to receive it than in years past. Today, UMass finance officials told the University's Board of Trustees' Committee on Administration and Finance that, going forward, the challenge for the University would be finding ways to increase financial aid at the rate that the need for it is growing.
Among the findings in a financial aid report presented to the Board of Trustees' committee:
President Caret said that UMass remains committed to increasing institutional aid to help students afford to attend and that he would continue to push the state to share more of the educational costs with students.
Governor Deval Patrick's new budget now before the state Legislature calls for an additional $152 million in FY 2014 for public higher education, including a nearly $43 million increase for UMass. The increase comes in response to President Caret's request for the state to split 50-50 the cost of providing educational programs at the University's five campuses; in return, UMass has agreed to freeze tuition for two years.
Five years ago, the state provided 57 percent of the funding for UMass educational programs and students and their families contributed 43 percent through tuition and fees. For the current fiscal year, the percentages are reversed, with students providing 57 percent and the state 43 percent of the $1.35 billion needed for educational programs.
In another effort to keep financial aid available to the most students and to reduce student debt, President Caret has asked campus leaders to begin taking steps to make it easier and more convenient for students to graduate more quickly. A growing number of students are taking six years to complete four-year degree programs, which requires them to incur more debt and obtain financial aid longer than should be necessary, President Caret said.
Next month, UMass plans to introduce a Shopping Sheet designed to give students and their families a better handle on the cost of attending college, including the amount of financial aid and family contributions necessary to cover expenses. UMass is one of 10 universities nationwide piloting the program under the auspices of the US Department of Education to provide greater transparency about college costs and student debt.
Contact: Ann Scales, 617-287-4084; Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073
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