Disappearing In-State Education
Every years since I earned my MA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst my pride in the institution has diminished. Now it barely serves its primary function of providing affordable education to the state's residents
... What began as an affordable ticket to a higher standard of living for anyone who was willing to work hard enough is now, according to a recent USA Today survey, the fifth most expensive of the country's 67 public flagship schools.
While tuition remains relatively low, steep increases in student fees (which cover everything from sports to health benefits to course fees) and room and board have put a UMass-Amherst education out of reach for many lower-income families. More than a decade of budget cuts has whittled the state's contribution from a hearty half to barely one-third of the university's total funds. Long among the stingiest states in per-student spending on public higher education, Massachusetts is effectively forcing its most prestigious teaching and research institution to rely more heavily on private fund-raising, student charges, and research dollars, putting it on the road to privatization.
... The Amherst campus has compensated by sharply paring tenure-track faculty from 1,220 in 1986 to 921 today and nearly quadrupling total student fees over the same period.
... "We've begun to price out low-income students, and we're heading toward middle-income students," says Max Page, an associate professor of architecture and history at UMass-Amherst. "Low-income students aren't getting here, and those who are here are taking longer to graduate," he says, because they have to juggle school and work.