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Pointing to quality and affordability benefits, UMass student trustees urge second year of 50-50 funding

Student trustees say action would establish Massachusetts as national public higher education leader

WORCESTER -- The five student trustees of the University of Massachusetts system today released a statement expressing appreciation for the major investment the state is making in UMass this year and urged state government leaders to complete the two-year 50-50 cycle by approving an equivalent funding increase in the upcoming fiscal year.

The student trustees - the elected representatives of the 72,000 students enrolled on the University's Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and Worcester campuses --- issued their statement as the Fiscal Year 2015 budget process is about to begin on Beacon Hill, with Governor Deval Patrick expected to unveil his budget proposal next week.

Urging full funding of the 50-50 model, the student trustees said: "This action would have the effect of increasing state funding for the five campuses of the UMass system by $100 million over two fiscal years, which would be a landmark accomplishment and allow the University of Massachusetts to continue to provide high-quality academic programs and unrivalled opportunity to the citizens of the Commonwealth."

"We urge the Governor and the Legislature to complete this process and to thereby provide the funding that would constitute a visionary investment in the students of today and tomorrow and an enduring investment in the Commonwealth and its future," the student leaders added.

UMass is receiving $479 million in state funding during 2013-2014 as a result of a $40 million funding increase -- the largest increase in the University's history.

The University is seeking $519 million in state funding for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 - a sum that would advance the University's quest for student-state funding parity and allow for tuition and mandatory fees for in-state undergraduate students to be frozen for a second consecutive year.

Coming into the 2013-2014 budget cycle, President Robert L. Caret asked the state to provide UMass with a dramatic funding increase - an increase that would address the student-state funding imbalance that had developed over the years, would allow for a tuition and mandatory fee freeze for in-state undergraduate students, and end an era of flat funding for UMass.

The term "50-50" refers to the goal of returning to a footing where students and the state provide equal shares of the funding for the University's education programs. In 2012-2013, students and their families provided 57 percent of the funding via tuition and fees, with the state providing the remaining 43 percent. The goal is to return to a 50-50 split next year.

Statement of University of Massachusetts Student Trustees:

On behalf of the 72,000 students of the University of Massachusetts system, we respectfully urge Governor Patrick and the House and Senate to reaffirm their investment in the students of UMass as they craft a new state budget. By providing a second year of 50-50 funding, Governor Patrick and the Legislature will establish the state as a national leader in the effort to preserve public higher education excellence and advancing the cause of student affordability.
As the elected representatives of the students of the UMass system, we can attest to the significant impact this year's funding increase has had on all five campuses. Students and their families have been spared the pressure of what for many years was an annual tuition-and-fee increase. Academic programs have not had to endure the cuts that might otherwise accompany a student-charges freeze, and students, faculty and staff have felt the uplifting effects of this significant vote of confidence.

Providing a second year of 50-50 funding would ease the financial burden on students and their families at a time when affordability and student-debt remain significant issues in the nation and in our state. With double-digit unemployment prospects for the typical college-aged youth, continued state investment in university education is critical now more than ever.

This action would have the effect of increasing state funding for the five campuses of the UMass system by $100 million over two fiscal years, which would be a landmark accomplishment and allow the University of Massachusetts to continue to provide high-quality academic programs and unrivalled opportunity to the citizens of the Commonwealth.

While recognizing the many needs and challenges that the state faces, we ask the leaders of state government to complete this two-year process. We note that the current state budget expresses a desire to provide a second year of 50-50 funding and this statement of intent was a sign of encouragement to the 72,000 students of the UMass System and was received with great appreciation.

We urge the Governor and the Legislature to complete this process and to thereby provide the funding that would constitute a visionary investment in the students of today and tomorrow and an enduring investment in the Commonwealth and its future. We hope that the legislative and executive leadership will continue to stand with the students of the University of Massachusetts and for the citizens of the Commonwealth to safeguard educational opportunity, quality and affordability.

Megan Kingston, UMass Amherst
Nolan O'Brien, UMass Boston
Colin Murphy, UMass Dartmouth
Phillip J. Geoffroy, UMass Lowell
Patrick Lowe, UMass Medical School

Contact: Patrick Lowe, 508-439-9359


1/16/14

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