UMass Board Approves Fee Hike But Patrick Objects

The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees approved a 5% hike in student fees Wednesday over the objections of Governor Deval Patrick. In-state student fees will go up by about $580 dollars next year, making annual tuition and fees $12,481. That doesn’t include room and board, which is about 10 thousand dollars at UMass Amherst. The hike comes on top of increases in student fees over the past 10 years.

UMass Amherst student Steve Donahue is wondering how he’ll afford it all:

“How am I going to do this?  I’m really anxious thinking about … well, I’m in college now. My sister’s starting college next year. My family has to cover the fees for both of us.”

At the State House, Governor Patrick is objecting to the fee increase too:

“It’s a crummy time to ask students to pay more. The economy is tough, their prospects after graduation are uncertain.”

He says the university system has to do a better job managing its money so students don’t have to pay the price. 

In a press release, university officials blamed the hikes on a steady decline in the proportion of education costs the state has shouldered over the past decade – from 61 percent in 2003 to an estimated 43 percent next year. They’ve agreed to freeze student fees for the next 2 years at the new rate if the legislature agrees to bring the state’s commitment up to 50 percent of the burden.

The board of trustees took swift action on the fee hike -proposing it at a Dartmouth campus meeting Tuesday night, and ratifying it first thing the next morning.. University officials did not return calls for comment.