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    UMass president hints at 2.5 percent tuition increase

    UMass president Marty Meehan.
    David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File 2019
    UMass president Marty Meehan.

    University of Massachusetts officials last week advanced a 1.5 percent tuition hike for medical school students and shone a bit more light on what in-state undergraduates across the other four campuses might expect to pay next year.

    At a hearing in Fall River last week, Lisa Calise, UMass senior vice president of administration and finance, told lawmakers that if they include the university’s full $568.3 million funding request in next year’s budget, UMass would be able to freeze tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students.

    UMass president Marty Meehan reiterated that point Wednesday at a meeting of the Board of Trustees’ administration and finance committee and added, “If not, our fiscal 2020 budget assumes a 2.5 percent increase for in-state undergraduate tuition.”

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    Governor Charlie Baker, in his fiscal 2020 spending plan, recommended funding UMass at $558 million, which Meehan said fully funds the state’s share of collective bargaining costs. He said he hopes the House and Senate follow Baker’s lead.

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    “Uncertainty over state funding for our collective bargaining contracts has been a significant issue in previous contract cycles and has had a direct impact on student costs, so full funding of collective bargaining in this budget recommendation is significant, and it’s important,” Meehan said.

    Meehan said UMass officials are monitoring the state budget process and working with the Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and medical school campuses on developing the university’s fiscal 2020 budget, which will come before the UMass Board of Trustees in June.

    Third- and fourth-year medical students start their academic year in May, so UMass sets tuition rates for its Worcester medical school earlier than for the rest of the system.

    The medical school tuition and fee hikes approved by the Administration and Finance Committee on Wednesday, which will come before the full board for a vote next week, would bring costs for in-state medical students to $38,346, with out of-state students paying $64,276.

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    For the Graduate School of Nursing, tuition and fees will total $15,454 for Massachusetts students, $18,834 for New England regional students, and $20,620 for other out-of-state students.

    In a letter to Meehan outlining the student charges proposal, Dr. Michael Collins, the medical school’s chancellor, wrote that senior campus leadership had made a “strategic decision . . . to limit total tuition and mandatory fee increases to 1.5 percent across all graduate schools and academic programs.”

    Collins said the non-mandatory fee for supplemental health insurance would drop by 7 percent, or $307, between this fiscal year and the next, a move he described as “the result of our team’s tremendous efforts to negotiate a meaningful decrease in rates with the health insurance carrier.”

    House leaders plan to pass their state budget bill in April, with the Senate tackling its budget in May.