State Universities and Community Colleges Suffer Despite UMass Funding Increase

BOSTON, Mass.—Gov. Deval Patrick recently approved an increase in funding for state colleges for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, continuing the pattern of the past few years. The UMass schools, however, receive a greater portion of the funding than do the nine other state universities. There are more students enrolled in the UMass system, and the funding increase has allowed UMass to freeze student fees for 2014 and 2015. Meanwhile, the other state universities and community colleges have been forced to continue increasing student fees.

In FY2013, the allotted state budget for education was a little less than $6.2 billion out of a total budget of $32.5 billion. The approved budget for FY2015 provides about $6.7 billion for education out of a total budget of $36.5 billion. In 2013, legislators allocated $420 million for UMass system schools, going up to $520 million in the most recently approved budget.

For FY2015, the UMass system schools requested and received an additional $40 million in state funding. Remaining state universities requested $15 million but received only eight million dollars. Currently, non-UMass state universities have average fees of $7,313 per student. These are expected to go up by about $400 to $500 per student in 2015.

“Many of our students are right on the edge,” said Dana Mohler-Faria, the Bridgewater State University President, in an interview with the Boston Globe. “Many are working two or three jobs to make ends meet. It could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for them.”

In 2014, the state budget awarded the nine state schools the $15 million they had requested, allowing them to freeze their fees just as the UMass schools did. It came as a surprise to have their funding cut in half for FY2015. If they do not start receiving more funding, state schools will have to keep increasing fees and more low-income students will find it unaffordable to attend state schools.

Editor: Hanna Saltzman

Editor: Stephannie Furtak

Jack Adams is a local writer and photographer who covers social justice issues around the Boston area.