UMass puts tuition and fee hikes on table for next fall

  • University of Massachusetts President Martin Meehan addresses UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, right, during the announcement of an $18 million private gift from Robert and Donna Manning and a $75 million commitment from the commonwealth to enhance and expand the newly named Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences at UMass, Oct. 27. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Monday, December 06, 2021

AMHERST — The University of Massachusetts may need to increase tuition for in-state students at the Amherst campus for the first time in three years to cover anticipated budget shortfalls caused by the pandemic and reduced enrollment.

Andrew Mangels, vice chancellor for Administration & Finance, wrote in a Nov. 23 letter to the campus community that a 2.5% increase in tuition for in-state students and a 3% increase for out-of-state students, along with 3% increases in dining and housing fees, may be necessary in the fall of 2022.

“As the campus emerges from the impacts of the pandemic, we continue to carefully plan and manage our finances to ensure both balanced budgets and the eventual return to the success and financial stability we experienced pre-COVID,” Mangels wrote in the letter titled “Fiscal Year 2022 & 2023 Budget Planning Update.”

Whether those adjustments to tuition and fees will be enacted won’t be known for a few months.

UMass Amherst spokesman Edward Blaguszewski wrote in an email that the board of trustees likely will set tuition and fees for the fall 2022 semester in the spring.

“The UMass board of trustees makes the decision on setting tuition and other fees,” Blaguszewski wrote. “No decision has been made for the coming year.”

In April, the board of trustees added $537 to the $17,889.50 out-of-state tuition per semester and $266 to all room-and-board plans each semester. But in-state tuition remained flat after UMass President Marty Meehan announced a recommendation that trustees freeze tuition for in-state undergraduates for the academic year that began in September.

At the Amherst campus, tuition and fees for in-state residents is $15,791 for the full semester, while out-of-staters pay $35,779.

In the planning assumptions made by Mangels, he notes that the federal stimulus program known as the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund expires during the current fiscal year and can’t be relied on as a long-term source of base funds. In addition, 500 fewer students enrolled at the Amherst campus this year than expected, and there is an increasingly competitive environment to attract students, given a decline in the number of 18- to 20-year-olds in the Northeast.

“Given the need to provide a balanced FY23 budget without any additional stimulus funding and uncertainties regarding enrollments, the campus is planning to operate at current base budget levels into FY23,” Mangels wrote. “Funding of strategic priorities will need to result from re-allocation of existing resources.”

The planning assumptions also have UMass with 5,300 incoming students, up from the 4,800 new students this fall. Also assumed are state appropriations that will be sufficient to cover collective bargaining increases for state-funded positions, but not other mandated costs or strategic investments; continued support for planned investments from a fundraising campaign; a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion department and faculty start-up; and inflationary cost increases for utilities, labor, and other goods and services.

Meanwhile, Mangels mentions the planned investments in capital and infrastructure for the next cycle that are subject to board approval. Those include the $125 million expansion of the College of Information and Computer Sciences building, $30 million for the partial renovation of the Totman building for the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, and $100 million for a new Department of Engineering building.