UMass Boston
A residence hall planned for UMass Boston is scheduled to open in 2018.

UMass Boston's move away from commuter school status has led to financial woes

March 20, 2017
Campus construction and program expansions have left the university with sizable debts.

The University of Massachusetts Boston's ambitious push to transform itself from a commuter school to a top-tier research institution has left the school with a budget shortfall that could reach $30 million by the end of the fiscal year in June.

The Boston Globe reports that after several years of campus construction and program expansion, UMass Boston has been cutting costs in an effort to dig out of its financial trouble. Administrators are scrambling to clean up construction debris, improve fund-raising, and reverse a slight enrollment decline.

Shrinking state support, growing maintenance needs, and at times chaotic management and lack of communication have resulted in financial woes, and tuition and fees have increased by 6 percent in the past year alone. In 1985, state funding made up 75 percent of the campus’s operating budget; now it makes up 29.5 percent.

Among the building-related financial issues:

  • A new science complex opened two years behind schedule and cost $28 million more than expected.
  • A new classroom building was delayed a year and ran $17 million over budget.
  • A project to install water, sewer, and electrical service underground stalled for a year because asbestos was found in the soil. It is now projected to cost $233 million instead of $142 million.
  • The university has looked to private developers to finance projects such as its first-ever residence hall. The $126 million project is set to open in 2018 instead of 2014. The student housing dvelopment stalled for years amid opposition from the surrounding neighborhoods, state officials, private universities, and some students and professors.
About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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