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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media


Paying bills is never fun. But come on, you have to admit that there was something really satisfying about paying two thousand dollars a semester at an institution like ours-state funded higher education with cutting edge staff, in Boston of all places-it couldn’t get any better.

On February 9, 2005, the Office of the President issued a press release stating “The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees finance committee today approved a tuition-and-fee increase that will see in-state undergraduate students paying an average of 3.2 percent more during the upcoming academic year.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that means we’ll be paying more.

That brings me to this question: has it occurred to you that the price of getting educated at UMB is unexpectedly pricey?

It seems that all of a sudden paying tuition is massively hurting our wallets.

That’s because we’re not paying two thousand dollars a semester anymore. It has actually doubled that.

The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (www.mass.edu) has actual figures of UMB tuition rates starting from 1980. I say we take a look at the numbers ourselves. To keep the examination as objective as possible, lets take a look at tuition rates from the past 15 years beginning in 1990:

1990/91: $3729, 1991/ 92: $3935, 1992/ 93: $4093, 1993/ 94: $4303, 1994/ 95: $4298, 1995/ 96: $4400, 1996/ 97: $4343, 1997/ 98: $4292, 1998/ 99: $4192, 1999/ 00: $4222, 2000/ 01: $4222, 2001/ 02: $4222, 2002/ 03: $5222, 2003/ 04: $6232, 2004/05: $8024.

The numbers themselves show in ten years (academic years 1991/92-2001/02) the tuition rates remained within the low four thousand dollar range, only fluctuating an approximate total of $500.

Indeed, 1995’s Strategic Plan stated, “We assume only inflationary growth in overall student costs with growth in revenue of 4% coming from modest enrollment growth. We assume that tuition will stay at current levels or possibly be reduced through [Board of Higher Education] policy initiatives.” Similarly, the Press Release of February 9 stated, “The increase…conforms to the University’s goal of keeping student-charge increases within the rate of inflation.” That seems fairly reasonable. But still, something is still not quite right.

Can’t put your finger on it? Take a look again at the numbers since the millennium. There are three sudden increases from the 2002-2005 academic years. The approved tuition increase has brought next years tuition to $8265. What the heck is going on? Notice the correlation with Mitt Romney’s election as Massachusetts Governor in 2002? His budget cuts have grossly attacked public schools leaving them scrambling with students paying the price.

Take a look at the archives of the Faculty Council minutes meeting from 2003-04: “approved a $750 increase for Spring 04 at the August meeting will generate $5.5 million in increased revenue.”

Remember that? Combined with the regular annual inflation rate increases, the fee “increases have kept me from learning this semester” stated a UMB senior who is unable to attend school this spring because of the price.

Doubling tuition for the entire UMass system would be one thing if students at the Boston campus had similar economic backgrounds as the average UMass Amherst student. But the fact of the matter is that we aren’t the same. Our lives and our bank accounts look dramatically different. UMB is an urban campus where the accessibility to urban school students should always be carefully monitored and maintained.

It appears that the Board attempts to console UMB students with their stated intentions in “hiring additional faculty, upgrading instructional technology, and strengthening academic programs.” But what good are these developments when UMB students cannot even stick around to enjoy them?

On that sour note, let us end positively with a quote from our President Jack M. Wilson: “It is our desire to keep costs as low as possible, while at the same time generating the funds that are needed to provide the academic opportunities that our students deserve…. Our overarching goal is to provide excellence and maintain access.”

Yeah. Right.