Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Financial aid reaches record high

By DailyCollegian.com Staff

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Matt Modica/Collegian

The University of Massachusetts is offering an increased amount of grant money to students, according to a press release from the UMass Office of News & Media Relations. At a Board of Trustees Committee meeting last week, President Robert L. Caret announced that financial aid is currently at “record levels.”

In the interest of curtailing student debt, $158 million of the school’s funds will be given to current students, according to the release. For students who graduated in 2010, the average student had $25,944 in debt, compared to under $15,000 five years ago, according to the release.

The $158 million being distributed in grants is a fraction of the total $736 million students receive in financial aid, according to the release. Last year, the University distributed $133 million in grants to students.

Approximately 91.8 percent of the year’s student financial need is being met with financial aid, in the forms of grants, student loans, and other forms of aid, according to the release.

“We are working hard to maintain affordability during an era of declining state support,” said Caret in the release. “Making sure that our students have access to meaningful amounts of financial aid is the single most important step we can take as state funding declines.”

Caret used his time at the Board of Trustees Committee on Administration and Finance meeting to advocate for greater state funding in public education, which has declined through the past 10 years.

Recently, the Board of Trustees requested a $502 million budget from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the 2013 fiscal year, which begins July 1. If the state approves this 20 percent budget increase, it would meet the University’s goal of splitting costs evenly between the state and students.

According to the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM), the state’s support of full-time students dropped 37 percent between 2001 and 2010.

Massachusetts currently provides 45 percent of funding for UMass’s general education programs, while students and their families contribute the remaining 55 percent. Caret is pushing to raise the state’s input to 50 percent.

“We know that state government leaders are hoping to address this situation, and we intend to work with them every step of the way,” Caret said in the release. “University leadership has worked hard to address the affordability issue – and the record levels of aid that we are providing dramatically illustrate those efforts. But at a time when we are seeing surging interest, applications, and enrollment, we are asking the state to do more.”

For the 2012 fiscal year, the University received $418 million in funding from the state, which covered 45 percent of the University’s expenses. In part due to a decrease in state funding and a significant decrease in federal stimulus money, UMass faced a $54 million funding gap.

This coincides with the rise of tuition and fees, which saw a 12 percent increase in the past year, according to the budget office.

Sarah Fonder can be reached at [email protected]. Michelle Williams can be reached at [email protected]

 

1 Comment

One Response to “Financial aid reaches record high”

  1. KKeith on February 13th, 2012 4:59 am

    Only around 25,000? I wish I were that lucky. I pay for everything myself and I’m out of state. The only help I got was some lovely high interest loans. Sometimes I think this education won’t be worth the years of devastating debt that I’ll be in.

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