The 20 extra dollars seen on tuition bills for the Fall 2019 semester is a result of the newly passed 50% off MBTA pass for first come, first served undergraduate students at UMass Boston. The funding for this initiative came from the $20 fee that was added onto every undergraduate student’s tuition bill. In return, 975 of these students were able to get a semester pass through the MBTA for 50% off of any package they chose. As a commuter school, this move was decided to be made on account of the great number of commuter students who would benefit from this expense cut.
The funding for this subsidy was exhausted quickly, and there is now a “constant flow of students who missed the deadline for 50% subsidy,” said Chris Sweeny, the Director of Transportation at UMass Boston. So, though everyone is charged $20, not everyone receives the benefits of this subsidy, which can become messy. There is also an exclusion of graduate students all together: they are not charged for the subsidy and they do not have the option to apply to receive it either. Plus, there are students in the dorm and those who drive to campus who aren’t in need of the train pass, so they would not benefit either.
However, according to Sweeny, the amount of passes sold has already doubled compared to in previous years. Last year, 403 passes with an 11% discount were sold to both undergraduate and graduate students. This year, all 975 passes have already been sold and even more are still selling with the 11% discount. Meaning, more people on campus are able to take part of this subsidy overall. This year was also the first time that this pass was able to be added onto a student’s tuition bill.
Transportation services has to abide by the dates set by the MBTA, so these passes won’t be available for long. They will be sold until Sept. 6, 2019 to all UMass Boston students. “We are prepared to offer this program again in the spring,” said Sweeny, "so it looks like this subsidy will stay in place come next semester, in which the $20 fee will be added again to all undergraduate students semester bill."
It has not been stated if the undergraduate student leadership will take need-based cases into consideration for priority registration come next spring.