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UMass trustees vote to authorize tuition hike if lawmakers fail to provide $39 million funding increase

Posted by Your Town  June 19, 2013 03:41 PM

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The UMass Board of Trustees urged the state Legislature to approve a $39 million funding increase for the system's colleges, and voted to allow President Robert L. Caret to raise tuition and fees up to 4.9 percent for next year if the allocation is not approved.

"We're hopeful that we can give students and their families some much needed relief for increased tuition and fees," said Ann Scales, a spokeswoman for the president's office.

Board Chairman Henry M. Thomas III said in a statement that the trustees felt the vote was necessary.

“Because the state budget has not been finalized, we find ourselves with the need to give President Caret the authority to raise tuition and fees if … and only if … state funding comes in at a figure lower than the $479 million proposed by the governor and already approved by the House,” Thomas said. “It is our fervent hope that the state budget conference committee will embrace the higher funding level approved by the House and that this increase will be signed into law by the governor.”

Thomas also said that if the additional funding is granted, the Board would freeze tuition and fees for the first time in 10 years.

The state House has approved Governor Deval Patrick’s plan for $479 million in funding for the five-campus UMass System. The Senate is proposing a budget of $455 million.

This past year, Caret has advocated for increased funding so the state and students would each pay 50 percent of the cost of education.

According to the statement, this year, approximately 75 percent of all UMass undergraduates are graduating with debt. The average student debt is $28,462, up from $20,956 five years ago.

Katherine Landergan can be reached at klandergan@globe.com. For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.

Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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