International Student Fee to be Eliminated for All Students at UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts Amherst has initiated steps to comply with an arbitrator’s decision, eliminating a $65 fee for international students who are members of the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO).

In addition, the university will stop charging all international students, both graduate and undergraduate, the $65 international student fee, and will provide a refund to all international students who previously paid the fee.

The university could have, but did not, appeal the decision. “While we disagree with the conclusion reached by the arbitrator, we respect the process of arbitration and will comply with the arbitrator’s decision,” said Chancellor John V. Lombardi. “As a matter of fairness, we also decided that we should take an additional step and end the fee for all international students.”

The user fee was established last spring to support services provided by the International Programs Office (IPO). The IPO budget suffered a $240,000 cut in fiscal 2004 following an unprecedented $21.3 million reduction in the university’s state appropriation. IPO trimmed its operations, and planned to substantially fund remaining services through the $65 per-semester fee.

Eliminating the fee will mean the loss of at least $150,000 in annual revenue, according to Deputy Provost John Cunningham. “In a tight fiscal environment, this decision will clearly have consequences,” he said. “While we will strive to preserve valuable functions, it will not be business as usual at the IPO. In the coming weeks, we will consider reducing or eliminating some current services.”