The cost of attending the University of Massachusetts for the 2014-15 academic year will not increase for the majority of undergraduates. The state’s taxpayers will be putting more toward the cost of a UMass education.
The University of Massachusetts board of trustees voted to freeze tuition and mandatory fees for in-state undergraduate students for the second year in a row. The back-to-back freeze is a first in recent UMass history.
The consecutive freezes at UMass come as rates are rising at most other public universities, according to UMass spokesman Robert Connolly. He pointed at Stony Brook, a SUNY university, and the University of Connecticut, which are both going forward with increases in excess of 5 percent.
" We were on the higher end when compared with our public university peers, but now two years of freezes have us in the middle of the pack," said Connolly.
The freeze in tuition and fees at UMass is made possible because of a record infusion of state funds.
" It is the state that has made this possible by appropriating what we expect will be $100 million over these two years."
The increase in the state appropriation for UMass -- included in both the House and Senate versions of the proposed state budget -- that makes the freeze possible represents a big change in how the public university has been treated on Beacon Hill.
Connolly says state funding for UMass had been nearly flat, when adjusted for inflation, for almost 15 years.
" Massachusetts is now a national leader in funding its public university and we are leading the pack now after several years of not being as distinguished as we would like to be."
When Robert Caret became UMass president in 2011, he began campaigning to increase state funding, which at the time was covering 43 percent of the cost of a typical undergraduate’s education. Caret proposed a 50-50 split between taxpayers and students.
State Rep. Stephen Kulik of Worthington, vice chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said legislators bought into Caret’s 50-50 plan.
" The significant funding for higher education is a hallmark of this budget."
Megan Kingston, a student trustee from UMass Amherst, praised the state’s elected officials for pursuing the “noble cause” of affordable higher education. She said the freeze will lessen the financial burden on students and their families.
" I have had friends who had to drop out due to lack of funding. I've had friends that have solicited donations. That is how real and true the struggle is."
The rates approved by the UMass trustees mean tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students at the flagship Amherst campus will remain at $13,258.