UMass enrollment is up to record levels; tally jumps more than 9,000 in five years

Enrollment in the University of Massachusetts system has reached record levels, a development that school officials are attributing to the school’s academic achievements and the relatively low cost of attendance.

“Families across the Commonwealth recognize that UMass provides top-quality academic programs at a cost that is significantly lower than you would face at a private university,” Robert L. Caret, university president, said in a statement. “In many cases, we trump the private schools in the two key areas: quality and affordability.”

The five-campus university enrolled 70,874 students this year, officials said in a statement. That’s 1,204 students more than last year, or a 2 percent jump.

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Enrollment has risen 16 percent in the past five years, from 61,034 in 2007, officials said.

“We are pleased to see this steady increase in demand,” Caret said. “We are committed to providing the quality and excellence that people are seeking and are finding at UMass.”

Officials said that UMass Amherst this fall welcomed its most academically accomplished freshman class, and that on average, the students ranked in the top fifth of their high school class.

The freshman class at UMass Lowell entered with the highest average SAT scores and high school GPA in the school’s history, officials said.

New construction and renovation to UMass will be supported by a $3.1 billion capital plan for fiscal years 2013-2017, officials said.