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Funding rise urged by UMass students

Student representatives of the state’s UMass campuses urged Beacon Hill lawmakers Monday to approve a major ­increase in funding for their schools.

The elected student trustees from the University of Massachusetts system universities called on the Senate to ­approve a $478 million funding proposal from Governor Deval Patrick.

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The House has agreed with Patrick’s proposal, which would boost spending by $39 million for UMass from the previous year. UMass has said the university system could freeze tuition and fees in the coming academic year if it received that amount. But last week, Senate leaders proposed increasing higher education funding to only $455 million. Senate debate is to begin Wednesday.

In February, Robert L. Caret, president of UMass, voiced his support for Patrick’s proposal, saying it would generate enough funds to cover 50 percent of academic costs for the five universities for the 2013-2014 year.

In recent years, state funding for the UMass system has slipped to roughly 43 percent of the full cost needed to run the institutions, university officials have said, resulting in “costs that students and their families must now bear.”

“Affordability and student debt are serious concerns for working- and middle-class families across the Commonwealth,” read the statement, signed by Jennifer Healy at UMass Amherst, Alexis Marvel at UMass Boston, Joshua ­Encarnacion at UMass Dartmouth, Phillip J. Geoffroy at UMass Lowell, and Brian ­Quattrochi at UMass Worcester.

“A tuition and fee freeze would represent real progress and send a national message of support for public universities, a skilled future workforce, and a strong economy,” the trustees said.

Lauren Dezenski can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @LaurenDezenski.
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