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Students Use Brains to Get Break on Board

January 24, 1991

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) _ About 50 University of Massachusetts students will be trading learning for lodging this semester.

A new program gives them a break on dormitory costs in return for tutoring underclassmen.

University officials said the plan is getting off to a slow start - just half the positions are filled. But they expect more students to enroll come fall.

″A number of students indicated that they were interested but unfortunately had lease agreements that prohibited them from applying to the program,″ said Joseph Zannini, the university’s director of housing services.

The plan is designed to fill empty rooms, brought on in part by declining enrollment, and give the academically disadvantaged a boost.

The campus is caught in the bind of state cutbacks and a dwindling freshman population, Zannini said. Dorm occupancy at the 25,000-student school normally is about 97 percent, but stands at 91 percent, he said.

Under the program, qualified juniors and seniors will get about $450 for the semester, a little more than half the average $907 cost for a shared dorm room. In return, they will be expected to coach students in English, accounting, chemistry, economics and computer science, depending on their majors.

Students will have to maintain a 3.0 average in the subjects they tutor and spend 5 1/2 hours a week coaching underclassmen.

Ninety students applied for the pilot program and 50 qualified, Zannini said.

Ann Quinley, dean of academic support services, has said that most of the new tutors were already living in dorms.

Zannini said that off-campus housing remains attractive to most upperclassmen.

″There’s a very natural desire for upper-class students to move off campus, to obtain I think a greater degree of privacy, to establish a kind of independence,″ he said.

Money for the program comes from making cutbacks elsewhere in the $20 million housing budget, Zannini said.

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