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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Continues Fight for State Funding

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The Massachusetts State House

In August of 2013, state lawmakers passed a budget that included $479 million in funding to the University of Massachusetts System. This was the result of UMass President Robert L. Caret’s efforts to convince lawmakers to split the cost of funding the UMass System 50-50.

President Caret pledged to freeze tuition and mandatory fee increases if lawmakers sufficiently increased funding to the UMass System and approached the 50-50 split. The $479 million in funding was a $39 million increase in funding over the previous year. Along with assurances of more increases to come, this was enough to allow President Caret to freeze fees for the 2013-2014 academic year.

The governor recently released his budget proposal for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. It includes a $36.9 million increase in funding to the UMass System, but this increase is roughly $2.5 million short of the $518.8 million budget that the UMass System, lawmakers and the governor’s office had agreed to in 2013. Because of that shortfall, the university is reserving the right to increase fees despite the governor’s administration’s belief that the additional state funding is sufficient to warrant a fee and tuition freeze. 

The Massachusetts State Senate also seems confident that the governor’s proposed budget is sufficient enough to allow the UMass System and other state universities to freeze their tuition and fees. In an article published by the Enterprise, Senate Ways and Means Chairman Stephen Brewer is quoted as saying, “We believe that that is ample resources to achieve that purpose.”

UMass representatives have not said one way or the other if the governor’s proposed budget will enable them to freeze tuition and fees for another academic year. President Caret spoke highly of the governor’s efforts to fund public higher education in a statement released to the Enterprise, but he fell short of guaranteeing anything.

“We are hopeful that the budget process will culminate with the best possible result for the 72,000 students of the UMass System and for our mission of quality, affordability and opportunity,” President Caret said. See more at: http://www.enterprisenews.com/article/20140206/NEWS/140207791/1994/NEWS/?tag=2#sthash.qSXeW2Wv.dpuf

Increases in 2013 to higher education funding resulted in many state schools being able to freeze increase to their costs and brought the state close to the sought after 50-50 split. UMass Boston Student Trustee Nolan O’Brien pointed out that state funding is a big budget line item that is competing with other big budget line items like public transportation. Because of this, the Student Trustees are trying to keep the issue in the foreground and encourage students to advocate for funding increases.