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UMass finance panel approves 3.1 percent student charge increase for 2008-2009

Adjustment Below Inflation And Recent National Higher Education Increase Averages

BOSTON - The UMass Board of Trustees finance panel today approved a 3.1 percent tuition-and-fees increase, which places the University on course to keep its mandatory student-charge increase below the rate of inflation for a fifth consecutive year. 

Under the proposal, tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates (four-campus average) would rise from $9,261 to $9,549, an increase of $288 or 3.1 percent.

The 3.1 percent tuition-and-fee increase is measured against a 3.6 percent inflation increase in the most recent quarter, based on the Consumer Price Index for the Northeast Region (NE CPI-U).

The proposal must be voted on by the University's full Board of Trustees when the board meets on March 19 at UMass Dartmouth.

Across the four undergraduate UMass campuses, the proposed increase in tuition and fees for Academic Year 2009, ranges from $266 to $311 for Massachusetts resident undergraduate students.

UMass President Jack M. Wilson said the proposal was in keeping with his goal of restraining student-charge increases to inflation or less in years in which the University received stable funding increases from the state.

"Our top priority is to keep academic excellence affordable for UMass students by containing costs. For the fifth year in a row, we would keep our student charge increase below the rate of inflation. Our policies continue to allow us to provide an exceptional educational experience to our students," President Wilson said.

President Wilson also said that the University would direct 20 percent of the new fee revenue to additional financial aid for UMass students with the greatest financial need.

"We are committed to making sure that UMass students continue to have access to world-class education," President Wilson said.

In addition to providing funds for additional student financial aid, the new fee revenue would be used to hire new faculty, to retain existing faculty and staff, to fund capital projects needed to provide students with world-class facilities, and to defray the cost of rising energy and utility bills.

Last year, the average cost of attending a private Massachusetts university was $40,677, according to a report published in the Chronicle of Higher Education. When room and board is factored in, the in-state undergraduate cost of attending the University's residential campuses in 2008-2009 would be: Amherst, $18,346; Dartmouth, $18,286, and Lowell, $16,525.

During the past five years, while tuition and fee increases at public universities nationally have averaged about 6.9 percent annually, the increases at UMass have been less than half of that, averaging 3.4 percent.

During the current year, the full cost of attending UMass Amherst (tuition, fees, room and board) places it fourth among New England flagships, with the University of Vermont, the University of New Hampshire and the University of Connecticut more expensive, and the University of Rhode Island and the University of Maine costing less.

Meanwhile, a report presented to the finance panel showed that financial aid for UMass students grew to record levels during the current 2007-2008 academic year. Among the highlights of the report:

  • UMass has increased its own support for student financial aid by more than $50 million over the past five years, growing from $35 million in FY 2003 to $85 million in the current FY 2008, an increase of 143 percent.
  • Financial aid for UMass students from all sources has risen from $258 million in FY 2003 to $473 million in FY 2008.

The aggressive approach to providing financial aid for needy students has also kept the average debt of UMass graduates below that of their peers graduating from other New England public colleges and universities.

Total Proposed Cost for Undergraduates including Room & Board - AY 2008-2009:

                   Massachusetts resident     Non-resident  
Amherst       $18,346                          $29,843 
Boston*        $ 9,111                          $21,297
Dartmouth    $18,286                          $27,989
Lowell           $16,525                         $28,545

Tuition and fees for medical students at UMass Medical School in Worcester would rise from $14,087 to $14,238, a 1.1 percent or $151 increase.

*=UMass Boston cost does not include Room & Board.

Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073
Libby DeVecchi, 617-287-7023



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