- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

BOSTON (AP) - The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees has voted to hike tuition at the five-campus system by 5.8 percent for the 2016-2017 academic year.

The hike will result in an average tuition increase of about $756 this year for in-state undergraduate students.

UMass President Marty Meehan said the tuition increase was critical to maintaining the university system.

“I believe that in following this course, we will be preserving the quality that the citizens of the Commonwealth need and expect,” Meehan said in a written statement.

The new tuition rates were approved Thursday on an 11-2 vote.

Tuition, across the system, will now average $13,862 for in-state undergraduate students. The highest tuition will be $14,590 at the Amherst campus. The least costly tuition will be at the Dartmouth campus at $12,783.

The trustees also approved increases in room and board rates for the upcoming academic year.

Meehan said the university is facing a $3.5 million reduction in its state appropriation for the current fiscal year at a time when he said the system is experiencing significant expense pressures.

Meehan said those pressures include obligations relating to a third year of contracts for unionized employees, debt service for capital projects, and fringe benefits for employees, which combined will cost an additional $107 million this year.

He said the tuition increase is part of “a two-pronged approach” to close an $85 million shortfall and balance the University’s budget.

Meehan said the shortfall will be closed by “spending reductions and efficiencies” totaling $65 million and the tuition hike, which is expected to bring in an extra $23 million.

The $65 million in reductions and efficiencies include staff reductions, hiring freezes and other personnel actions worth $28 million and “administrative restricting, expected to save $15 million.

The board of trustees had held off on the tuition hike vote until after lawmakers approved - and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed - a new nearly $39 billion state budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

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Online: https://www.massachusetts.edu/about-umass-system/quick-facts

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