UMass Students Could Face Tuition Hikes Of Up To 5 Percent

In-state University of Massachusetts undergraduate students would see a tuition hike up to 5 percent during the coming academic year under a recommendation from a university system finance committee.

The actual size of the hike, which would be the first in three years, would be determined by how much money state lawmakers approve for the five-campus university system for the new fiscal year.

If 5 percent is approved, students would pay an additional $552 to $580, depending on the campus they attend.

The recommendation now goes to the full board of trustees for consideration at its June 17 meeting in Amherst.

House and Senate lawmaker differ on funding levels for UMass. The House budget provides nearly $519 million compared to about $538 million in the Senate version of the state budget.

UMass has requested about $578 million.

UMass President Robert Caret said the request includes funding for collective bargaining costs.

Caret said the decision to increase tuition and fees is not something the university takes lightly.

"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," Caret said in a written statement. "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 UMass is hoping to keep the increase as low as possible, depending on how much the university receives in the final version of the budget.

The state is facing tough fiscal times. Gov. Charlie Baker has warned of a $1.8 billion structural gap between revenues and anticipated spending for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Baker has instituted an early retirement program for state workers as one way to help close that gap.

Caret said UMass was able to freeze tuition and mandatory fees for in-state undergraduate students during the past two years after the state increased funding for the system by $100 million.

He said the freeze had an enormous impact, with the average net cost of attending UMass this past year declining by more than $200.

If trustees approve a full 5 percent hike next week, tuition and mandatory curriculum fees for in-state undergraduate students for the 2015-2016 academic year will range from $11,598 for the UMass-Dartmouth campus to $12,252 for the UMass-Lowell campus.

Even with the proposed curriculum fee increase, the finance committee said, next year's cost of attendance for in-state UMass undergraduate students still is less than half of the average cost of attending private institutions in Massachusetts.

The board also is considering allowing campuses to raise or create a technology fee of up to $250 to help meet their technology infrastructure needs.


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