UMass trustees approve second tuition-and-fee freeze
DARTMOUTH -- June 18, 2014: The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees today froze 2014-2015 tuition and mandatory fees for in-state undergraduate students, unanimously approving the first back-to-back freeze in recent UMass history.
"Freezing tuition and fees in consecutive years represents a real savings for students and their families, and also makes a strong statement about our commitment to affordability and the seriousness with which we take our public mission," UMass President Robert L. Caret said. "Our mission fuses access with excellence, and we serve the Commonwealth and its citizens to the fullest when we provide high-quality academic programs and maintain a reasonable cost structure."
The University's consecutive freezes - which would come about as a result of a record infusion of state funds - come at a time when private universities around the nation continue to raise tuition and as rates are rising at most public universities.
Increases at UMass Amherst's peer universities range from a low of 0.9 percent to a high of 5.6 percent, with two of its public peers - Stony Brook University in New York and the University of Connecticut - going forward with increases in excess of 5 percent. UMass Amherst, the flagship campus of the UMass system, would keep tuition and mandatory fees at current levels for in-state undergraduates under the vote taken by the Board of Trustees.
According to a recent report in the Boston Business Journal, tuition/room and board charges at selected private colleges and universities in the Boston area are rising at an average of 3.4 percent in 2014-2015. One school, Tufts University, is breaking the $60,000-mark, as Tufts undergraduates will pay $61,277 for tuition, fees, room and board during the upcoming academic year, according to the BBJ.
"We are able to do this because of the leadership and commitment we are seeing from the Commonwealth, because of the support and guidance we have received from Chairman Henry Thomas and our Board of Trustees and because of the determination and careful management of our Chancellors and their teams," President Caret said.
"Governor Patrick, House Speaker DeLeo, Senate President Murray and the entire Legislature should be applauded for the historic steps they have taken. Massachusetts has carved out a leadership role on an issue of national significance and is making an investment that will pay dividends for generations to come," President Caret added.
Henry M. Thomas III, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees, called a second freeze "a truly remarkable accomplishment," and noted that "the Board of Trustees is going to continue to work hard to make sure that this University remains as affordable and as accessible as it can possibly be."
Chairman Thomas added: "We are fortunate to have in President Caret a leader who recognized that we needed change and who then fought tenaciously to bring about that change."
Student charges vary from campus to campus, but under the rates approved today, tuition and mandatory fees for in-state undergraduate students at UMass Amherst will remain at $13,258. The cost of attending the University's flagship campus with room and board factored in would be $24,215.
Tuition and mandatory fees for in-state undergraduate students at the other UMass campuses, not including room and board:
Tuition and fees are being set as the Legislature is crafting a new state budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.
The House and Senate versions of the budget both contain funding for the five-campus UMass system of just less than $519 million - a funding level consistent with the 50-50 proposal advanced by President Caret after he assumed the UMass presidency in July 2011.
President Caret's 50-50 plan called for a two-year, $100 million increase in state funding for UMass, with the goals of strengthening the University overall and of equalizing the amount of money students and the state provided for educational programs. UMass said it would freeze tuition and mandatory fees in each of the years it received full funding of the 50-50 program. UMass received the first year of 50-50 funding during 2013-2014 and froze tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students.
If the second installment of 50-50 funding is contained in the 2014-2015 state budget when it is finalized, state funding for the five-campus UMass system (when measured by the state appropriation as augmented by a corresponding increase in fringe-benefit funding for employees) will have increased by $100 million, one of the largest increases realized by any public university in the nation.
In today's vote, the Board of Trustees gave President Caret emergency authority to raise the mandatory fee for in-state undergraduates by up to 3.5 percent -- but the committee and President Caret made clear that this power would be used only if funding for UMass in the new state budget took an unexpected plunge. Trustees gave President Caret similar power last year, but given that funding levels for UMass remained intact throughout last year's budget process, the 2013-2014 tuition-and-fee freeze also remained in place.
Comments from UMass Student Trustees:
"The second consecutive fee-freeze showcases the dedication of our elected officials to the noble cause of affordable public higher education. In an economy where students are working multiple jobs while attending school, it is paramount that we lessen the financial burden placed on students and their families. This freeze advances our mission of accessibility and affordability." Megan Kingston, UMass Amherst
"I am hopeful that instituting a second year of tuition and fee freezes across the UMass system will cement the 50-50 funding model as an equitable approach to funding public higher education for students across the Commonwealth and will serve as a foundation for future efforts in tuition-and-fee reductions. For the students that I represent at UMass Boston, many of whom work two or three jobs to keep up with the rising cost of even public education, knowing that their tuition and fees are staying put will lift a financial and mental burden." Nolan M. O'Brien, UMass Boston
"On behalf of the students of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and their families, I would like to thank the Governor, Legislature, Board of Trustees and University leadership. This freeze demonstrates a shared appreciation for the quality and the value that our university system provides to the citizens of the Commonwealth. This critical investment is keeping the dream within reach for tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of current and future students." Colin Murphy, UMass Dartmouth
"The freezing of fees for a second consecutive year is tremendously encouraging and meaningful for the hard-working students across the UMass system. So many of the students that I represent at UMass Lowell work multiple jobs to pay for their college education, and to them this relief is much needed. I am hopeful that this level of support can be sustained in subsequent budgets to allow UMass to maintain its commitment to affordability and accessibility." Phillip J. Geoffroy, UMass Lowell
"Today's action provides an important statement to the students of the University system: that UMass is committed to maintaining its position as the affordable choice for quality higher education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." Patrick Lowe, UMass Medical School
Contact: Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073; Ann Scales, 617-287-4084