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UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year

(Collegian File Photo)

Tuition and fees at the University of Massachusetts are set to rise once again for the 2017-18 academic year.

In-state undergraduates at all UMass campuses will see a three percent increase in their tuition, raising costs to $15,030 per academic year at UMass Amherst. Out-of-state students at the Amherst campus will see their tuition rise to $33,096, a four percent increase from the 2016-17 academic year.

The new budget was approved by the UMass Board of Trustees, who met at the UMass Medical School in Worcester on Monday in a special meeting.

The increase comes on the heels of a lower than expected Massachusetts state budget appropriation of $513.5 million, $25.1 million short of what UMass officials initially requested.

While state funding comes in at approximately $5 million more than last year, cuts may still need to be made across the UMass system, which has an overall University budget of $3.3 billion.

“Students are charged a lot of money at this University,” said UMass Amherst Student Trustee Derek Dunlea. “The fact that [students’] bills are changing, basically a month before classes start…that’s a problem.”

Dunlea, one of four student trustees present at the meeting, voiced his displeasure with the increases in tuition, saying the lack of transparency behind the budgeting process is not genuine for students. Dunlea was the only trustee to vote against the tuition increase, which passed nearly unanimously.

In the meeting, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy stated that while the three percent tuition increase will allow for most programs to continue operating normally, an additional $6 million in cuts may still be necessary for UMass Amherst to balance its budget.

Multiple UMass Board of Trustee members voiced their displeasure with a budgeting system that forces tuition increases and program cuts on a near-yearly basis. According to Vice Chair Maria D. Furman, the process of receiving inadequate state funding and the subsequent need for tuition hikes takes place far too regularly.

“Three percent just doesn’t get you there,” said Trustee Robert Epstein on the impending increase.

Furman, Epstein and other trustees indicated that a more sustainable practice for funding the University is necessary for the future. No plans for the implementation of such practices were discussed at the meeting.

Epstein later said increases of six percent or greater every few years may benefit both the University and its students, as the University would not need to approve new rates as frequently and students would better understand what they would be paying before enrollment.

According to UMass President Marty Meehan, other public universities and community colleges in Massachusetts received level funding for the upcoming fiscal year, while UMass saw a one percent rise in state funding. University-wide enrollment also increased by 0.9 percent, providing for a $9.4 million increase in revenue.

UMass Amherst’s tuition and fee rates can be found on the UMass website.

Will Soltero can be reached at wsoltero@umass.edu and followed on Twitter at @WillSoltero.

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