On July 20, 2020, the UMass Boston Board of Trustees voted to freeze tuition rates for in-state students enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year. “As the pandemic took hold and unemployment ratcheted up quickly, especially in the Commonwealth, we all realized our students were losing jobs, their family members were experiencing an unprecedented loss of income, and that it was our responsibility to take that into account and do what we could to lessen the burden of the costs of higher education on our students,” said former Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman when asked how the tuition freeze came about. Former Chancellor Newman held the position of chancellor until July 31, 2020, and stated that “all of the chancellors participated in the discussion that led to President Meehan proposing the tuition freeze to the Trustees.”
According to UMass Boston News, the Amherst, Dartmouth, Lowell, and Boston campuses’ tuition will average $14,722 for in-state undergraduate students, and tuition for in-state graduate students will continue to range between $14,590 and $18,433. The UMass Boston News article does not make mention of tuition rates for out-of-state students.
“The fact that out-of-state students are still being charged the same is a little ridiculous,” said sophomore Stephen Konrath via online survey. “Especially if we opted out of the dorms this semester. I could be getting more or less the same thing from my local community college or state university for thousands of dollars less.”
Another student, Naomi, also responded to the same online survey:
“I believe the phrase ‘Tuition Freeze’ is an overstatement. It's just a discount, which is nice and all, but it's only for in-state students who are paying half of what others are paying. I believe [if] you're gonna give a perk, give it to everyone, especially those like me who are paying $20k per semester to look at my laptop.”
Students will continue to receive financial aid from federal, state, private and university-funded sources, says UMass Boston News.
Tuition is usually increased alongside the rate of inflation, and due to the lack of increase this year, the UMass system will go without $18.6 million in revenue according to UMass Boston News. The article goes on to say that “the loss of revenue is offset, in part, by ongoing efforts of the university to reduce administrative costs.”
When asked what reducing administrative costs meant, Newman said “ . . . fundamentally it means trying hard to do the same amount of work (advising, teaching, running offices like financial aid, admissions, etc) with fewer people, because positions that are vacated via retirement or departure or furloughs are not replaced.”
“All of the campuses, including [UMass Boston] will have to contend with far less revenue to support the operations of the campus, which have not declined just because of the shift to remote education,” said Newman when asked how the freeze will affect UMass Boston specifically. “The campuses still have to cover the costs of our faculty, staff, libraries, health centers, financial aid, debt service on the buildings, etc.”
“To do all that needs to be done to keep the campus running and students moving toward their degrees with significantly less revenue is a major challenge,” Newman elaborated. “It has translated into furloughs for administrators and staff, a complete halt to any purchasing that isn’t directly related to the classroom, layoffs of some staff, and the need to send out notices to several hundred instructors who may not be rehired this Fall. These are very serious losses.”
When asked, Newman also explained the benefit of the tuition freeze. “The principal benefit is that it makes a UMass Boston education more manageable financially for our students than it would have been if we had kept to the original budget plan of a modest increase,” Newman said. “Keeping the campus as affordable as possible is a benefit for the community and a responsibility we all share to maintain access.”
For more information regarding tuition and fees, visit the UMass Boston Bursar’s Office website at https://www.umb.edu/bursar.