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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Another Damn Fee Hike!

Last week, the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees voted to pass on to students a recent $28.5 million cut in state funding. Student fees will increase at four UMass campuses, including UMass Boston, for the 2002-03 academic year.

It will now cost $1,000 more per year to attend UMass Boston than it did in the fall of 2001. This increase includes the institutionalization of the “one-time only” $350 Curriculum Trust Fund support fee assessed to students in December, plus the additional $650 approved by the board on Wednesday, February 6. This is a total increase of 14 percent.

UMass President William Bulger’s office explained, “Given the state cuts in funding, these adjustments are necessary. However, the university’s main priority is to maintain high quality educational opportunities for the citizens of the Commonwealth. We do have to deal with this fiscal challenge.” Pointing to a ten percent increase in the cost of attending Northeastern University, the president’s office commented that compared to private universities in the Boston area, “UMass is still an affordable option for higher education. Our campuses will do what we can with financial aid to help students.”

As a result of the fee increases in December and last week, UMass will now rank among the most costly public universities in the US. The national annual average cost of attending a public university is $4,200. It will now cost $5,222 to attend UMass Boston.

Tuan Pham, a Sophomore majoring in finance and minoring in political science, and a member of the undergraduate student government, stated, “In my personal opinion, the fee increase will have a devastating effect. A lot of students are just getting by as it is. We are paying a lot more money for less education. I don’t understand how the administration is building a new campus center and is going to build new dorms, but they do not know how to appropriate money.”

Stacey Scorza, a graduating senior and political science major, believes, “The fee increase will probably deter many student from choosing UMass as an affordable state school. Unfortunately, tuition cost is an important factor in choosing and ruling out prospective schools.”

A spokesperson for Chancellor Jo Ann Gora’s office, stated, “We don’t believe that the fee increase will deter prospective students from applying or cause current students to leave the university.”

Chancellor Gora has appointed a Budget Brainstorm Committee. Still in the “discussion stage,” this committee will “look at all areas of the university for areas where cuts can be made and savings can be made.” The committee will submit a list of these areas to the chancellor in March, but so far, “nothing specific has been identified yet.”

The chancellor’s office added, “We know that the fees will be a hardship for students, but UMB is still the most affordable university in this area. We are still below the average inflation rate, unlike other schools that increase their costs every year.”