UMass president: Freeze in-state tuition

  • The University of Massachusetts Amherst campus COURTESY PHOTO

  • MARTIN MEEHANUMass president

Staff Writer
Saturday, May 30, 2020

AMHERST — A tuition freeze for the almost 50,000 in-state undergraduate students attending school this fall at the four campuses of the University of Massachusetts is being recommended by UMass President Marty Meehan.

Citing financial hardships faced by many Massachusetts families during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in consultations with chancellors including UMass-Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, Meehan is proposing the board of trustees approve the tuition freeze at its June meetings. Those meetings include the June 10 Committee on Administration and Finance that will set student charges and a full board vote on June 17.

“During this time of stress and uncertainty for our students and their families, we need to keep our high-quality programs and the benefits of a UMass degree as accessible and affordable as possible,” Meehan said in a statement.

Trustees Chairman Robert J. Manning said in a statement that the recommendation shows concern for students and their families facing difficult budget decisions, which is shared by chancellors and members of the board of trustees.

“At this critical moment, we need to keep the path to opportunity and economic recovery open and accessible, and I commend Marty for proposing this tuition freeze,” Manning said.

Tuition, fees, and room and board at UMass Amherst for in-state undergraduates rose to $29,393 last fall. It had been $24,215 just five years earlier following a two-year tuition freeze prompted by the Legislature and then-Gov. Deval Patrick boosting state aid by $100 million for the university system, with $50 million targeted to the Amherst campus.

Even with the possible tuition freeze, UMass will continue to use significant amounts of its own money toward grants for students, with $395 million made in direct financial aid to students in the current academic year, an increase of $124 million, or 46%, over the past five years.

In response to COVID-19 challenges faced by students transitioning to remote learning in March, each of the UMass campuses has established emergency funds. All UMass campuses are also in the process of distributing federal emergency aid under the CARES Act, which can go to students who have incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations.

In addition, university campuses reimbursed a total of $65 million in room and board when residence halls were closed.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.