UMass leaders praise funding increase, announce tuition and mandatory fee freeze
BOSTON - University of Massachusetts President Robert L. Caret today praised state government leaders for their decision to "stand with UMass and open an important new era in our University's history."
"Governor Patrick, Speaker DeLeo, Senate President Murray and all of the members of the Legislature who supported us are renewing and expanding our state's commitment to excellence and affordability in public higher education. A century and a half ago, the University of Massachusetts opened its doors, and today the state opens the doors of opportunity even wider and signals its unmistakable support for students, families and for public higher education," President Caret said.
"This is about providing opportunity and building a bridge to the future and Governor Patrick, Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Murray are to be commended for vision and their bold leadership," President Caret added. The Fiscal Year 2014 state budget signed into law by the Governor today provides $479 million in state funding for the five-campus UMass system - a $39 million, or 9 percent, increase over the funding UMass received in the fiscal year that ended on June 30 - and enough to trigger a tuition and mandatory fee freeze during the 2013-2014 academic year. The budget also contains language calling for a second major increase in 2014-2015 - an increase that would trigger a second tuition and fee freeze.
"On behalf of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, I want to thank Governor Patrick for his confidence in us and thank the Legislature for its outstanding and deeply appreciated support," said Henry M. Thomas III, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees.
"Massachusetts is sending a national message of support for public higher education and is making an important investment in its future," Chairman Thomas added.
The first step in the process leading to the historic 9 percent funding increase for the UMass system was taken in January, when Governor Patrick proposed $479 million in funding for UMass. The House approved $479 million for UMass in its version of the budget and prevailed in conference after the Senate opted for a lower figure.
Over the past year, President Caret has advanced a 50-50 proposal, under which the state and students would provide equal shares of the funding for the University's educational programs. This year, students and their families are supplying 57 percent of the $1.3 billion needed to provide educational programs across the five-campus system, and the state is paying for the remaining 43 percent. Five years ago, that was exactly reversed: The state paid 57 percent and students 43 percent.
Under the proposal put forward by President Caret, the state would provide UMass with nearly $100 million in additional funding over the next two years, thereby achieving a 50-50 balance in 2014-2015. UMass would freeze tuition and the mandatory curriculum fee during each of the next two academic years as long as sufficient funding were approved.
Over the past 15 years, funding for UMass has been essentially flat. This year, UMass is receiving $439 million in funding from the state. Fifteen years ago, in Fiscal Year 1998, UMass received $405 million from the state, and when this century began in Fiscal Year 2000, state funding for UMass was $456 million - or $17 million higher than it is today.
While state funding has remained flat, enrollment throughout the five-campus system has surged - from 56,995 students in Fall 1997 to 70,774 students in Fall 2012.
While UMass is more affordable than a private university, the state-to-student transfer of funding responsibilities that has occurred in recent years has led to higher tuition and fee levels and to increased student debt. This year, an estimated 75 percent of all UMass undergraduates are graduating with debt, and average debt is $28,462, up from $20,956 five years ago.
Meanwhile, the University has been engaged in an aggressive program to achieve savings and efficiencies that has resulted in $68 million in expense reductions over the past five years. UMass has saved the $68 million through steps that include consolidating administrative functions previously performed on each of the campuses. UMass expects to save another $123 million over the next five years by reducing energy expenditures, improving purchasing practices and streamlining information technology operations.
Contact: Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073, Ann Scales, 617-287-4084
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