UMass Freezes In-State Tuition Rates Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

The move comes as the university cuts spending to about 5% below last year's level

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The University of Massachusetts system announced Monday it was freezing tuition rates for the 2020-21 academic year as the state continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, UMass said tuition for its Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell campuses would be frozen at an average rate of $14,722 for undergrad students and between $14,590 to $18,433 for graduate students.

“Even as UMass, like higher education institutions across the country, faces significant budget cuts due to pandemic-related financial challenges, we need to do all that we can to keep a high-quality UMass education within financial reach of Massachusetts students,” UMass Board of Trustees Chairman Rob Manning said.

Laith Mekouar was a freshman at James Madison University when the coronavirus pandemic closed his campus back in March. Mekouar discusses how his college experience will change in the fall and how he feels about returning to school with coronavirus cases rising.

“Holding the line on tuition is simply the right thing to do this year as so many students and families are facing stress and uncertainty created by an unprecedented national health emergency and economic downturn,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “That means controlling student charges and supporting financial aid so our students are able to pursue their dream of earning a UMass degree.’’

Students will continue to receive a total of some $1 billion in federal, state, private and university-funded financial aid, the statement said.

The move comes as the university cuts spending to about 5% below last year's level, part of a strategy to close a $264 million budget gap as the university and students prepare for a different college experience.

Outlining the budget gap, Meehan told the UMass Board that the four campuses plus the medical school collectively face an "unprecedented financial challenge" after balancing about $114 million in revenue losses last quarter.

The final $3.3 billion annual budget that trustees approved Monday, which calls for spending to be reduced by $171 million below fiscal 2020 levels.

Officials did not outline how or where they trimmed that much but described the process as challenging.

A spokesman could not be reached immediately to answer questions about staff or program cuts.

A UMass medical student who was once fighting for her life with COVID-19 is now on the front lines against the pandemic.

"We face difficult decisions today and we will continue to face them in the weeks and months ahead," Meehan said.

The university faces uncertainty about how much federal aid will help stabilize the higher education landscape and the number of students who will not remain enrolled once their schools shift to mostly or entirely online classes in the fall.

Campus leaders collectively anticipate a decline in enrollment of about 5 percent.

Rather than a system-wide approach, officials at each of the undergraduate campuses in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell are planning their own models for the fall with varying degrees of in-person instruction.

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