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November 15, 2017

UMass students react to tuition hike

(Daily Collegian Archive)

It’s a new year full of new classes, new experiences and unfortunately new payments. The University of Massachusetts has had its third consecutive tuition-hike; this year’s margin rising three to four percent.

Three  friends sat under a tree near the campus pond, chatting on one of Massachusetts warmer days seemingly at ease. But, there’s more to their stories. Undeclared sophomore Avery Monroe debated coming back to UMass this fall after her financial aid package wasn’t where she expected and tuition had gotten too expensive for her and her single mother to pay alone. Sophomore political science major Lexis Dotson Dufault struggled last semester working 35 hours a week on top of five classes.

“There’s not enough time for everything,” Dufault said. “You don’t get sleep, then you’re just stressed out, then you’re doing worse in your classes.”

Student tuition increased after state budget fell $25.1 million short of what UMass officials initially requested. In an article from the Boston Globe, University president Marty Meehan said the tuition increase was necessary and still lower than many private colleges and surrounding public universities.

While the statement is true in that colleges like Smith and Amherst charge over $50,000 a year, students like Monroe and Dufault do not see the reason in paying so much for schooling that, at this point in society, seems like it is no longer an option.

“I think it’s ridiculous because you literally have to go to school to get any type of job,” Monroe said.

“Most jobs you can’t just be an undergrad and get a job. You have to go get a Masters,” Dufault added.

The news of the tuition increase came out late in the summer after a meeting with the Board of Trustees in a nearly unanimous vote.

According to junior mechanical engineering major Ramy Sayah, the increased tuition just adds more of a burden to students already dealing with college loans.

“[The University] should take into consideration what affects students and invest more in education. If they need more money, they take it from students. They should find other ways of getting funds,” Sayah said.

Senior mathematics major Varun Pulluru understands that the University can not do too much when it comes to the state cutting their funding, but they can think more about the allocation of that funding. He references buildings that were renovated on campus such as the Champion Center, South College and Isenberg.

“These buildings don’t really contribute to anything but give the University good notoriety,” Pulluru said. He mentions fees UMass will throw at students such as the IT fee last year, but still there is no change in the quality of the WiFi, which he said cuts in and out and is slow.

Palluru also expressed that there is a lack of transparency of what exactly is consisted in the tuition bill on SPIRE. His freshman year it was split up so students could see where the money they were spending was going to, but now it’s just a single multiple-digit number.

“I have no idea where my money is going,” he said.

Helen Luong, a senior mathematics major, added to Palluru’s point, and said she has previously looked up the UMass budget to find herself dissatisfied with how much goes toward things like advertising and football.

Luong compared UMass to Vassar College, a private, arts university in New York, as an institution that on one hand is more expensive, yet finds ways to offer students more financial aid—marking itself as second for “Best Financial Aid” according to Princeton Review.

Sarah Heinonen is a senior journalism major who works full time in addition to going to school full-time. She said she understands that colleges are often run by businesses and have to offset their costs.

“We don’t need a new building on every corner, why not renovate what you already have and save money that way,” Heinonen said. “You can cut a lot of corners that don’t involve passing that onto your students.”

The news came at a frustrating time for students such as junior public health double majors Kelleigh Youngclaus and Kristina Alfred. Both students pay tuition completely on their own and just found out only late in the summertime that it would be increased.

Alfred said she tried to get a financial aid increase but was denied, told by the University she reached her capacity even though she reports that online her capacity says full tuition.

“I didn’t know if I was going to have to get a second job over the summer to pay for it and that was extremely frustrating,” Youngclaus said. “It was something that was very troublesome even when I was away from school.”

Youngclaus said she would like to know that when there is an increase in cost, the University will be upfront with what students are getting out of it or just explain the reason behind the increase.

“I understand why the University needed to raise tuition. I don’t think they went about it the right way,” Youngclaus said.

Caeli Chesin can be reached at mchesin@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @caeli_chesin.

Comments
One Response to “UMass students react to tuition hike”
  1. Shaw says:

    That’s what happens when you protest for the sake of protesting and divest from fossil fuel companies’ money to feel like you accomplished something. Now without that money that you were getting for free the tuition has to raise to make up for that. Maybe this will teach students that their actions have consequences (it won’t)

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