Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass trustees vote to implement 7.5 percent fee increase

An earlier version of this story was published June 9 on

Students at the University of Massachusetts may have noticed a spike in fees on their tuition bills for this semester.

Members of the UMass Board of Trustees voted in a 9-4 decision in June to implement a 7.5 percent fee hike for students across the five-campus UMass system to help close a purported $54 million budget gap. The increase boosts tuition and fee costs for in-state undergraduate students at the Amherst campus to $12,612 annually, compared to last year’s cost of $11,732.

“It is always difficult to vote to raise student charges,” said Board of Trustees Chairman James Karam, who voted in favor of the increase, at the June meeting held at UMass Boston. “But after careful consideration, I feel we need to implement [the] 7.5 percent increase.”

Supporters of the measure said that while it was difficult to implement a hike in costs for students who already might be financially strapped, it was a necessary action to avoid further cuts to the UMass system. The budget gap, officials contended, could largely be attributed to a discontinuation in federal stimulus funds to the University.

“I cannot and will not vote for a reduction in student aid and programs,” said trustee Edward Collins, before giving the proposed increase his nod of approval. Collins said that the measure was not a referendum on whether there should be more state funding to the University system – which he said he supports – but was a way to mitigate more slices to programs.

The increase in fees, according to trustees, will bring in revenues amounting to about $26 million. The other $28 million to close the funding gap will be raised through budget cuts.

About 29 percent of revenue collected will also be put aside to contribute to financial aid funds for students.

But, even so, the fee raise didn’t sit well with roughly two-dozen people who showed up to the trustees’ meeting to protest the vote for the hike.

“We’ve come here to tell you that fee hikes aren’t the path to shared prosperity and that balancing the budget on the backs of struggling students is not only wrong, but it’s dumb,” James Tarr, a student at UMass Lowell, told trustees shortly before the vote was taken. “If we can find the money to expand our campuses … then I refuse to believe that we can’t find the money to make our public campuses more affordable.

“What good are new buildings and facilities at UMass if students can’t afford to sit in them?” continued Tarr, to a round of applause from the protesters who assembled to oppose the measure.

Those who gathered to object to the proposal – who appeared to mostly be students – punctuated the meeting several times, and jeered at then-UMass President Jack Wilson. They also contended that public funding for the University should be increased.

“It seems that our institution has essentially given up in the fight to keep public education public,” Thomas Goodkind, the president of the faculty union at UMass Boston, told trustees.

But, ultimately, the pleas of those who assembled to fight the proposition didn’t prevail as a majority of the trustees voted in favor of the fee increase.

After the vote was taken, many of the protesters – who held up signs opposing the measure – marched out of the meeting room in solidarity. As they left, many of them chanted: “Education should be free; no cuts, no fees.”

Even though the trustees did not heed their cries, many of those who gathered in opposition said they wouldn’t give up their fight.

“I think that we have to continue the fights against these fees,” said Kate Losey, a graduate student at the Amherst campus studying forestry in the environmental conservation department, directly after the vote was taken. “There is a Legislature to promote the idea of taxing the rich.”

Wilson had initially brought forth the fee increase. It was then tweaked in cooperation with each of the chancellors at the UMass campuses.

The trustees who voted against the measure included then-UMass Amherst student trustee Mike Fox, Stephen Tocco, Lawrence Boyle and then-UMass Boston student trustee Stasha Lampert. Those who voted in favor of the proposal included Karam, Collins, S. Paul Reville, Ruben King-Shaw Jr., Henry Thomas III, John DiBiaggio, Philip Johnston, Kerri Osterhaus-Houle and R. Norman Peters.

In addition to the mandatory 7.5 percent fee hike, the trustees also voted to spike room and board fees at the University. Students living on the Amherst campus will pay an extra $698 for housing and food services, bringing the total price to $9,512.

That increase, according to officials, was needed to accommodate for energy, utility and employee costs at the housing and dining facilities.

William Perkins can be reached at [email protected].


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  • H

    Harrisburg Alternative MedicineJul 13, 2011 at 8:06 pm


  • T

    TaintedJul 10, 2011 at 10:54 am

    The true outrage is that the unions received 18.6 million dollars in raises and benefits increases, despite not becoming more productive in any capacity. My parents work in private higher education, and both of them including many friends lost benefits and faced pay freezes. I’m glad to see those students who came into my economics class fighting the fee increase by going to Boston did so much! Oh wait… they just wasted more of my money… but it’s okay, they at least have something to go on their resume!

  • D

    DianaJun 18, 2011 at 8:21 am

    This is outrageous. Administration costs are out of control. Have the trustees asked for a comparison of year by year administration costs (as opposed to teaching and research)? Every time we turn around there is a new “dean” in charge of somthing, and all admin people making more than ever.

    By having a 7.5% increase, with 29% of that reserved for financial aid, instead of a 5% increase, the trustees are in effect imposing a tax on non-financial aid students and their families, many of whom are not rich. This will be counter-productive, as many of the most able students will be comparing their merit aid from private or out of state schools. If the main reason the most able students come to Umass is finanical, this will result in a lowering of academic standards.

    Do the trustees not understand that 7.5% is well above inflation, well above what most people are getting in raises?