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February 27, 2003

Mass. Maritime to be privatized?
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney yesterday unveiled budget proposals that would see state subsidies to Massachusetts Maritime Academy end within four years. As part of a shake up of higher education, said a statement accompanying the budget, "three schools that cater to a unique niche--University of Massachusetts Medical School, Massachusetts College of Art and Massachusetts Maritime Academy--will each become private over the next four years. State officials will lease each of these three schools their property for $1 a year and continue to allocate state assistance to them over the next four years. Over the four-year period, each school will be permitted to raise their tuition and fees to market rate, as state assistance is reduced."

All three schools will continue to receive dedicated financial aid for Massachusetts residents in need, said the statement.

According to the Cape Cod Times, "if state subsidies stop, the school would have to triple student tuition -- from $11,500 to more than $30,000 -- and price out most of the school's typically blue-collar students.

The newspaper quotes Therese Murray, a Plymouth Democrat who chairs the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means committee, as saying the plan can't work because the academy depends on federal dollars that would disappear if the school became a private institution.

The academy, she said, needs federal dollars for the $40 million training ship, on which cadets apply the lessons of the classroom to a real-life sailing mission.

The school also receives Department of Defense scholarships, Coast Guard assistance and federal environmental dollars.

"I don't think (the administration) understands that federal dollars go through that school," Murray is quoted as saying. "And if we cut them off (from the state college system), we lose that."

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