An Act Committing to Higher Education the Resources to Insure a Strong and Healthy Public Higher Education System
S.741, introduced by Senator Jo Comerford
H.1214, introduced by Representatives Sean Garballey and Paul Mark
Accounting for inflation and changes in student enrollment, public higher education in Massachusetts has been cut by 31 percent since 2001. As a result of the state’s underfunding of public higher education, Massachusetts has the fastest-growing public college costs and the second-fastest growth in student debt in the nation.
Public Education Has Been Starved
The average UMass student is graduating with over $30,000 in student debt, and graduates of our state universities leave school with over $25,000 in student debt, on average. The Higher Education Finance Commission report found that the share of higher education costs borne by students and their families shifted dramatically over this same period, from approximately 30 percent in 2001 to approximately 55 percent in 2016.
The CHERISH Act will:
- Require that the Commonwealth fund public higher education at no less than the 2001 per-student funding level, adjusted for inflation, implementing the core finding of the 2014 Higher Education Finance Commission.
- Provide more than $500 million in additional funding for public higher education. These new funds must supplement — not supplant — existing funding.
- Establish in law a fair and adequate minimum funding level for public higher education at no less than the 2001 per-student funding level, adjusted for inflation.
- Freeze tuition and fees for five years, as long as the Legislature appropriates the funds required to reach 2001 per-student funding levels in five years.