UMass President Meehan Wants to Lock In Tuition Rates with Millionaires’ Tax Money

UMass President Marty Meehan, right, shares a thought with former UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney in Haverhill. (WHAV News file photograph.)

If UMass President Marty Meehan has his way, in-state undergraduate students will pay the same locked-in tuition rate throughout their four years of education at the university’s Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell campuses.

Meehan, who filed his “cost certainty” proposal with the legislature last month, hopes to pay for the plan with money from the voter-approved millionaires’ tax. He detailed it during last week’s State of the University message.

“Clearly, despite the headwinds facing all of higher education, the state of the University of Massachusetts remains strong, and UMass continues to deliver for the Commonwealth,” Meehan said during the nine-minute video, recorded at UMass Boston.

A cost certainty program is intended to support cost predictability and transparency for students and families, encourage timely degree completion, protect students from economic uncertainties and promote financial planning for college.

The program would be paired with continued investments in university-generated financial aid. As detailed in the video, UMass increased student aid by $28 million this fiscal year and more than $180 million over the last decade. The University said in a statement, those increases played a significant role in UMass holding average student debt flat over the last decade.

The proposal, the University notes, comes after Massachusetts voters last year approved Question 1, a ballot initiative that established an additional 4% state income tax on income over $1 million. The new tax revenue, according to the initiative, is dedicated to education and transportation purposes.

It is expected that the University board will continue to adjust tuition rates annually to reflect modest, inflationary increases.  However, for the incoming class, that approved rate would be consistent for the student’s four years at UMass. It is estimated that with a cost certainty program in place, UMass would forgo an estimated $25 million in annual tuition revenue – a loss that could be offset with new state revenue from Question 1.

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