UMass committee approves 7.5 percent fee hike
The University of Massachusetts approved a 7.5 percent increase in student fees for the next academic year that would boost the average bill for an in-state undergraduate by more than $800.
The fee approved last week by the trustees Committee on Administration and Finance is needed to maintain academic standards and services in light of a $54 million budget shortfall brought in part by the loss of nearly $38 million in federal stimulus money, university officials said.
The fee hike is expected to close nearly half that gap, with the remainder coming from cuts.
“If the University of Massachusetts is to maintain, let alone expand, its reputation for excellence in teaching, research and service, it must have the necessary revenue to do so,” committee Chairman Victor Woolridge said. The trustees had “little choice” in the matter, he said.
The fee increase goes before the full board on June 8.
The increase approved last Wednesday will boost tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate next year to an average of $11,838, up from $11,012 during the recently completed academic year. That does not include housing costs.
Nearly 30 percent of the money generated by the fee increase would go toward financial aid, which would at least partially offset the effects of the increase for some students, university President Jack Wilson said. UMass students received $673 million in financial aid during the last academic year.
“We are taking a carefully considered step to preserve academic quality and will use our financial aid program to cushion the impact of the fee increase to the fullest extent possible,” trustees Chairman James J. Karam said.
The increase was proposed by Wilson, who is stepping down June 30, and developed in collaboration with campus chancellors.
“We are charting a balanced and responsible course,” Wilson said.
The UMass system, with campuses in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell and a medical school in Worcester, is trying to maintain affordability at a time when more and more students are applying and enrolling, officials said.
Enrollment at UMass has increased by nearly 10,000 students over the past five years. The University enrolled 68,315 students last year, a 3.6 percent increase over the previous year.
General Dynamics adds 100 Pittsfield, Mass. jobs
PITTSFIELD, Mass. - General Dynamics has hired more than 100 employees to help work on a defense contract it was awarded by the Navy in December.
General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems ultimately hopes to hire 500 workers over the next five years to build, test and deliver the electronics systems for the Littoral Combat Ships.
Officials from the Pittsfield-based unit said half of the new workers came from inside Berkshire County. The other half is split between other Massachusetts residents and those living outside Massachusetts
Gov. Deval Patrick joined workers and company officials last week to mark the job growth.
The Littoral Combat Ships are estimated to cost $500 million each to build. The Navy wants 55.
General Dynamics is designing the ship's infrastructure, electronics systems and completing engineering work.
Mass. House approves anti-human trafficking bill
The Massachusetts House has unanimously approved a bill designed to crack down on those who traffic young people and adults for sex or forced labor.
The legislation would create the crime of human trafficking in Massachusetts, one of a handful of states without a trafficking law.
Those found guilty of trafficking people under the age of 18 for sex would face life in prison. Trafficking adults for sex would bring a 15-year sentence and a $25,000 fine.
The bill would create similar penalties for those who traffic adults and children under 18 into forced labor. Corporations found guilty of the trafficking adults for labor would face fines up to $500,000.
Attorney General Martha Coakley called the vote an important step toward eradicating human trafficking in Massachusetts.
The Senate is also expected to take up the bill.