University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan announced today that he would recommend that the university’s Board of Trustees freeze tuition for in-state undergraduates for the academic year beginning in September. If approved by the UMass Board, this would be the second straight year of a tuition freeze at the Commonwealth’s 75,000-student national public research university system.
President Meehan made the tuition freeze announcement in his State of the University address on the one-year anniversary of UMass transitioning to online learning and work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The message was delivered to university students, 18,000 non-student employees, half a million-plus alumni, and other stakeholders via video on social media, the university’s website and email. The message, entitled “Answering the Call,” also highlighted the university’s response to the pandemic and its role in supporting the post-pandemic economic recovery of Massachusetts.
“To lessen the financial burden on our students and their families, many of whom have suffered from job losses, business closures and other impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, I intend to recommend to the UMass Board of Trustees that we freeze tuition for in-state undergraduate students for the second consecutive year,” he said. “This is made possible by the support of the federal legislative delegation, which recently passed the American Rescue Plan and our partners in both the state legislature and Governor Baker’s administration.”
UMass Board of Trustees Chairman Robert J. Manning said, “President Meehan’s recommendation reflects his recognition that our students and their families have been dealing with significant financial hardship throughout this pandemic. The Board shares this concern, and also knows that the skilled management of the university by President Meehan and our five chancellors makes this freeze possible.”
The average pre-financial aid in-state undergraduate tuition at UMass was $14,722 for academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21. UMass has the fifth-lowest tuition among the six New England public universities: University of Vermont ($19,062), University of New Hampshire ($18,938), University of Connecticut ($17,834), University of Rhode Island ($15,004), and the University of Maine ($11,712) this academic year.
UMass awarded $971 million in federal, state, institutional and other financial aid in FY20. Since FY15, institutional aid – funds set aside by the university to decrease actual student costs – has increased 49 percent to $351 million per year.
Delivering his remarks from a research laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, President Meehan began by acknowledging the pandemic’s impact and emphasizing how the university’s comprehensive response to COVID-19 “exemplifies what the university means to Massachusetts.”
“Never before has our mission been so perfectly crystallized in one momentous challenge,” he said. “In the darkest hours for Massachusetts, UMass was prepared to answer the call, and we did.”
Meehan noted examples of UMass campus initiatives directed at addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
- At UMass Medical School, 135 medical students graduated two months early in order to help the Massachusetts health care system grapple with the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic.
- UMass Amherst biostatistician Nicholas Reich, director of the Influenza Forecasting Center of Excellence, developed a COVID-19 Forecast Hub that unifies several models to provide clearer data for policymakers and public health professionals.
- UMass Boston researchers from the Gastón Institute released a report highlighting the significant disparities faced by the Latino population in Massachusetts in COVID-19 incidence rates and outcomes.
- UMass Dartmouth biologist Erin Bromage became a national voice educating the public on how the virus was spreading between individuals and what precautions they could take to protect themselves.
- UMass Lowell’s Fabric Discovery Center was tapped by Governor Charlie Baker to help ensure the effectiveness of PPE for healthcare workers.
President Meehan also described how the university made its facilities available to the state and its healthcare providers, including field hospitals at UMass Lowell and UMass Dartmouth, and one of the northeast’s largest COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites at UMass Amherst.
After outlining the numerous contributions UMass campuses made in the fight against COVID-19, Meehan said the university is working toward “near normal operations” in the fall with most students returning to in-person classes, employees returning to work and “all participating fully in the local economies of our host communities.”
Meehan closed by acknowledging the “incredible dedication and commitment of our students, faculty and staff. UMass has not only survived this crisis, it is ready to emerge even stronger than before,” he said. “The University of Massachusetts has answered the call.”