Board of Trustees finance panel approves increase in student fees
- The UMass System
BOSTON – A University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees committee recommended on June 10 raising tuition and the mandatory curriculum fee by up to 5 percent for in-state undergraduates, with the size of the increase to be determined by the level of funding UMass receives from the state.
If the full 5 percent increase were to be implemented, the annual impact on students would range from $552 to $580, depending on the campus they attend.
The recommendation by the Board’s Committee on Administration and Finance now goes to the full Board of Trustees for consideration at its June 17 meeting in Amherst.
“The decision to increase fees is not taken lightly and is never our first option,’’ said UMass President Robert L. Caret. “We are proud of the fact that we have frozen tuition and mandatory student fees for two years in a row, and we would like that to continue. But given the current fiscal environment in the state and the structural deficit that the Commonwealth is having to address, it is important that we give students and their families enough time to plan accordingly,’’ he said.
“We intend to monitor the budget process very carefully and would be eager to set the fee increase at a significantly lower rate if state funding permits us to do so,” President Caret added.
The House and Senate differ on funding levels for UMass with the House budget providing $518.9 million for Fiscal Year 2016, while the Senate budget provides $537.7 million. UMass requested $578.3 million, including funding for collective bargaining costs and the amount needed to reach 50-50, the funding formula in which the state and students split educational costs equally that has enabled the University to freeze mandatory student fees for two consecutive years.
Even with the proposed curriculum fee increase, next year’s cost of attendance for in-state UMass undergraduate students will still be significantly lower than this year’s cost for resident students at peer universities, including the University of Connecticut, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of California-Santa Barbara – and less than half of the average cost to attend private institutions in Massachusetts, according to data provided to the Committee on Administration and Finance.
UMass was able to freeze tuition and mandatory fees for in-state undergraduate students over the past two years as a result of the state boosting funding for the five-campus UMass system by $100 million.
A report provided to the trustee committee showed that the freeze had an enormous impact, with the average net cost of attending UMass this past year declining by more than $200, decreasing from $17,488 in 2013-2014 to $17,209 in the academic year just completed.
“UMass is one of the few colleges and universities in the nation where the net cost of attendance actually went down during the past year, and we can see that this extraordinary feat was accomplished as a result of a partnership with the Commonwealth that we need to recapture in the future,” President Caret said.
If approved next week by the Board of Trustees, tuition and mandatory curriculum fees for in-state undergraduates for the 2015-2016 academic year will be:
UMass Amherst: $11,684
UMass Boston: $11,886
UMass Dartmouth: $11,598
UMass Lowell: $12,252
About 20 percent of the revenue generated by the curriculum fee increase will be directed to providing financial aid to students with the most significant need. The 63 percent of in-state undergraduate students at UMass who are determined to have financial need and receive some form of financial aid have more than 87 percent of their need met, a figure significantly higher than the less than 70 percent of need met for students at UMass peer institutions, according to data presented to the trustees committee.
In addition to raising the mandatory curriculum fee, the Committee on Administration and Finance also approved allowing the campuses to raise or implement a technology fee of up to $250 that will be used for technology infrastructure needs on the individual campuses, and other increases in mandatory fees to support health services, student activities and athletics.
James R. Buonomo, chairman of the Committee on Administration and Finance, said: “While raising student fees is always a last resort, we are thankful that we were able to give students and their families some relief these last two years. We hope we can do so again in the years ahead and that working with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we can increase the level of investment in public higher education.’’
Board of Trustees Chairman Victor Woolridge, said, “We are forever mindful of the impact of raising tuition and fees on working families in Massachusetts, and we look forward to building a stronger funding base for public higher education for the benefit of the students who will be providing the talent and innovation in the Commonwealth for years to come.’’
|Resident Undergraduate Tuition & Mandatory Curriculum Fee||FY 15||FY 16||$ Change||% Change|
|Resident Undergraduate Tuition & All Mandatory Fees||FY 15||FY 16||$ Change||% Change|
|Resident Undergraduate w/ Room & Board||FY 15||FY 16||$ Change||% Change|
Contact: Ann Scales, 617-287-4084; Robert P. Connolly, 287-7073