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Freeze likely for UMass tuition, fees

AMHERST — A University of Massachusetts trustees committee Wednesday gave initial approval to a freeze on tuition and mandatory student fees for in-state undergraduates for the second year in a row.

That means tuition and mandatory fees for UMass Amherst students would remain at $13,258. With room and board factored in, the total is $24,215.

The board’s committee on administration and finance unanimously approved the systemwide freeze at its meeting in Boston on Wednesday. The measure needs final approval from the full board when it meets next Wednesday at UMass Dartmouth.

The news comes as the Legislature works on the proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, which includes just under $519 million for the UMass system. That is consistent with the 50-50 proposal by President Robert Caret when he took office in July 2011. The plan called for a two-year, $100 million increase in state money for the UMass system, in exchange for freezing tuition and mandatory fees each of those years.

UMass spokesman Robert Connolly said the unanimous vote by the administration and finance committee is good news.

“Clearly the 50-50 program enjoys strong support and I would be optimistic about its passing,” he said. If the $100 million dollar increase is approved for next year, it would represent one of the largest increases for public university funding in the nation.

If this goal is not realized, or if funding drops drastically in the year to come, the administration and finance committee has given Caret authority to raise the mandatory fee for in-state undergraduates by up to 3.5 percent.

Student trustees on the board championed this program, and the budget increase that led to it. Connolly said the decision unquestionably reflects student opinions and concerns during a time of heavy financial pressure on those entering the university.

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