BOSTON - University of Massachusetts students will be hit with at least a "slight" tuition and fee increase in the coming school year, UMass President Marty Meehan said Wednesday, but tuition and fees will not be set until July when officials hope to have a better handle on their budget picture. The administration and finance committee of the UMass Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved tuition hikes for the UMass Medical School, and officials said rates for other campuses would be influenced by conference committee negotiations among six lawmakers on next year's budget. There were more than 74,000 students across the UMass system during the 2016-2017 academic year. Meehan said university officials are "actively looking" at where tuition is likely to land, and each campus is monitoring its own financial situation.

"There will be a slight tuition increase," he told the committee. "We're going to try to keep it as low as we possibly can but there is no question that given the budget situation, there has to be a tuition increase."

Not raising tuition would "jeopardize the quality" of education the schools can provide, Meehan said.

Trustees last year approved a 5.8 percent increase, costing the average in-state undergraduate $756 more in student charges before financial aid. Like this year, the board waited to set rates until budget negotiations were complete.


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The fiscal 2018 spending plans approved by the House and Senate differ by $21 million in their appropriations for UMass. That gap combined with sluggish state revenue growth in fiscal 2017 creates a "significant amount of uncertainty" for the five-campus system, Meehan said.

The UMass system's original budget request for the 2018 fiscal year was $538 million, a $30 million increase over this year.

The Senate came close to that number, allocating $534 million, while House budget funds UMass at $513 million.

The proposed Senate appropriation fully funds the state's share of collective bargaining agreements, said Meehan, who told the committee he is meeting regularly with lawmakers to advocate for funding.

The UMass system is projected to end the 2017 fiscal year with a $20.5 million operating budget surplus, though the Boston campus is now on track to run nearly $10 million above its budget, senior vice president for administration and finance Lisa Calise said.