UMass continues aiding students by awarding grants
AMHERST — The University of Massachusetts expects this year to direct $148 million of its own funds toward financial aid for students, primarily in the form of grants, to maintain affordability and access and keep student debt manageable, UMass President Robert L. Caret said last week.
Institutional aid to UMass students is the fastest-growing category of financial aid, rising 7 percent over last year and 178 percent in the last decade, from $53 million in Fiscal Year 2004 to the estimated $148 million in Fiscal Year 2014. State and other sources of financial aid have remained relatively flat, according to a report provided to the UMass Board of Trustees’ Committee on Administration and Finance.
“More and more students need help paying for college, and we are committed to helping them so that the doors of opportunity remain open on all five of our campuses,” President Caret said. “I commend the chancellors for working to ensure that students with financial need get the assistance they need. It is critically important that we keep UMass affordable and not burden students with unmanageable college debt.”
Overall, UMass students borrowed or were awarded a record high $728.3 million in all forms of financial aid this year, more than double the $346 million in Fiscal Year 2005 and up 2 percent from Fiscal Year 2013. The University and the federal government are the two largest sources of aid for UMass students, constituting 74 percent of total aid awarded.
University finance officials say the need for financial aid is growing, with more in-state undergraduates applying for financial aid and more being eligible for it. They said that, going forward, the challenge for the University would be finding ways to increase financial aid at the rate that the need for it is growing.
Among other findings of the financial aid report:
∎ 34,829 students applied for financial aid, an increase of 3 percent from 2013.
∎ 98 percent of students with need receive some type of need-based financial aid.
∎ UMass continues to be affordable compared to other public and private universities in Massachusetts. In Fiscal Year 2013, the average cost of attendance was $25,855 at UMass, compared to $27,274 at other public colleges. The average cost to attend a private university was more than $58,000. 74 percent of UMass undergraduates will graduate with an average of $29,406 in college debt in Fiscal Year 2014, compared to 72 percent who graduated with average debt of $27,448 in Fiscal Year 2011.
UMass was able to freeze tuition and mandatory fees for the current academic year for in-state undergraduate students as a result of a $40 million state funding increase — the largest increase in the University’s history. UMass is seeking a similar increase in the fiscal year that begins July 1 .