The facts about Romney’s John and Abigail Adams Scholarship

Mitt Romney has not said much about his plans for public higher education on the campaign trail, but he has frequently boasted that the top-scoring 25 percent of Massachusetts high school graduates are eligible for a John and Abigail Adams Scholarship, his signature accomplishment in public higher education while he was governor. As Romney describes it, Adams Scholarship recipients can go to any Massachusetts college or university tuition-free. Sounds like a great deal, right? Not so fast.

In Massachusetts, tuition is very low and mandatory fees are very high. The scholarship only affects tuition. At UMass Amherst, for example, the tuition and fees for the current school year are $13,715. Of that total, only $1,714 is tuition and the rest is made up of mandatory fees, so the Adams Scholarship student must still pay $12,001.

When you add in the cost of room and board, the benefit of the scholarship seems even less significant. For the current year, tuition, fees and room and board for a student in a double room who signs up for the Value Meal Plan add up to $23,436. The cost for the Adams Scholarship student is just $1,714 less, for a total of $21,722.

Meanwhile, the cost of attending UMass Amherst during the Romney administration increased by a whopping 48 percent. Looking just at tuition and fees (not room and board), the cost went from $6,482 in the 2002-03 school year to $9,595 in 2006-07, the last year Romney was in office. So the Adams Scholarship was more than swallowed up by the $3,113 increase in fees during Romney’s tenure.