Sunday July 7, 2013

BOSTON (AP) -- Tuition is remaining flat for undergraduate students at Massachusetts public colleges and universities this fall.

Higher education spending was boosted in the new budget by nearly 17 percent. It reverses falling state support over the years that shifted more of the cost to students and their families.

The Boston Globe reports that five years ago, tuition and fees paid for 43 percent of academic programs at the University of Massachusetts, while the state assumed 57 percent. By this year, the percentage had reversed.

The annual increases forced many students to borrow more and prompted university officials to step up lobbying to persuade the state to assume more of the burden.

Costs vary among the public colleges and universities. Tuition and fees at flagship UMass Amherst are $13,200 a year for in-state students, and more than $23,000 with room and board. UMass Boston tuition and fees run to $12,000.

In exchange for a more even split in state-university funding, the university agreed to freeze tuition and mandatory fees.

Lawmakers say support for a budget increase next year is possible that would allow schools to continue holding the line on costs.

"If we freeze it for two years, we'll see the average debt drop," Caret said. "It will make a huge difference."

The freeze does not apply to out-of-state students, for whom tuition is significantly higher.

In the past five years, the average debt for UMass graduates has risen by more than one-third to more than $28,000, according to university figures