Committed to maintaining quality, UMass Trustees approve tuition increase
- The UMass System
WORCESTER -- Vowing to preserve the high quality and upward trajectory of the University in the face of state budget cutbacks, the UMass Board of Trustees today approved an increase that would raise tuition by an average of $756 this year for in-state undergraduate students.
“I believe that in following this course, we will be preserving the quality that the citizens of the Commonwealth need and expect,” said President Marty Meehan.
President Meehan added: “We will do everything we can to protect students and families with need via financial aid.”
The $756 increase constitutes a 5.8 percent rise, which declines to 3.2 percent when the effects of financial aid are factored in.
“I do believe we are taking a responsible course given our fiscal challenges,” Chairman Victor Woolridge said as Trustees met at UMass Medical School. He added that this approach “will preserve academic excellence and the progress we all prize.”
The new tuition rates were approved on an 11-2 vote.
Tuition, across the system, will average $13,862 for in-state undergraduate students.
The University is facing a $3.5 million reduction in its state appropriation for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, at a time when it is experiencing significant expense pressures. These include obligations relating to the third year of contracts for unionized employees, debt service for capital projects, and fringe benefits for employees, which combined will cost an additional $107 million this year.
The tuition increase approved by the Board of Trustees is part of a two-pronged approach to closing an $85 million shortfall and bringing the University’s budget into balance in 2016-2017.
President Meehan said the shortfall will be eliminated via:
- Spending reductions and efficiencies totaling $65 million
- The tuition increase, which will generate $23 million
“I believe that the approach we are taking – one that emphasizes spending cuts over new tuition dollars – is appropriate and is consistent with the observation Standard & Poor’s recently made when it reaffirmed our strong bond rating and praised our ‘conservative budgeting practices,’” he said.
Key components of the $65 million spending reduction plan are:
- Staff reductions, hiring freezes and other personnel actions: $28 million
- Administrative restructuring: $15 million
This year’s cuts come on the heels of spending reductions made throughout the UMass system last year, reductions that included President Meehan cutting central office spending by 4 percent through personnel actions and other steps like adjustments to procurement and travel policies.
Additionally, UMass has been engaged in a system-wide Efficiency & Effectiveness program that since Fiscal Year 2010 has saved or will save the University $293 million as a result of ongoing projects meant to improve the way the University does business -- in areas ranging from purchasing energy and office supplies to how and when it borrows money for construction and maintenance projects.
The tuition increase is expected to generate $30.3 million in total revenue, a quarter of which will be redirected into financial aid – leaving $22.8 million in net revenue.
Nationally, states are increasing appropriations for public higher education by an average of 2 percent to 4 percent in 2016-2017, according to a report issued last week by Moody’s Investors Service. President Meehan noted that the state’s 0.7 percent decrease in funding for UMass was a result of major budget challenges facing the state, “not because the state doesn’t value what we do.”
He urged the Board not to reduce quality or stall the march of progress at UMass. “I think it is clear that none of us are here to say we can climb this high and no higher.”
Trustees also approved Room & Board rates for the upcoming academic year.
For all rates, go to: http://www.massachusetts.edu/about-umass-system/quick-facts
Contact: Robert P. Connolly, 617-548-0238; Jan Brogan 781-467-9900