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Advocates call on Legislators and Healey-Driscoll Administration to act on Board of Higher Education recommendations and analysis

BOSTON, Dec. 15, 2022 – The Education Trust in Massachusetts, uAspire, OneGoal, Bottom Line, Jumpstart, and Journey into Education & Teaching issued the following statement regarding the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education’s (BHE) decision on the state’s public higher education financing system.

“As organizations committed to educational equity and racial and economic justice, we commend the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education for taking a significant step forward to promote educational equity. The board’s strategic review of public higher education financing is critical to better understanding the current state of higher education financing and how it impacts students in Massachusetts — especially students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. We are especially encouraged to see a number of improvements for students being endorsed, including more financial aid to students at Massachusetts public colleges and restructuring how the state funds public colleges and universities.

“BHE’s leadership is a strong start to lay the groundwork for the next phase of educational improvement in the state. However, it does not negate the urgent need for lawmakers to pass comprehensive legislation that equitably and adequately finances public higher education to ensure that first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students have authentic access and necessary support to succeed at and graduate from college.

“Higher education has long been one of the main drivers of opportunity, social mobility, and economic progress in our society. But despite Massachusetts consistently being lauded as the most educated state in the nation for being home to the highest percentage of bachelor’s, graduate, and professional degree-holders, over the last two decades, the state has disinvested in public institutions and decreased state spending per full-time student.

“As a result of years of inadequate state funding, tuition and fees at our public colleges and universities have increased, and schools are becoming increasingly reliant on families’ payment of tuition and fees for revenue. This reality, coupled with inadequate grant aid, has left many students and parents no choice but to take on higher amounts of student debt. For many students from families earning less than $30,000 annually, Massachusetts public college attendance costs can amount to more than half of their family’s income — after grants and loans. In contrast, families earning more than $110,000 annually can expect to pay only a fifth or less of their annual income.

“Higher education once stood as a promised gateway to the middle class or the key to a better future, but today’s reality is grim. Unless the state makes significant changes to how we fund public higher education, tens of thousands of students will continue to face the difficult decision of postponing their degrees, taking on burdensome amounts of debt, and/or working part- or full-time to graduate. And research has shown us time and time again that students of color are amongst those most negatively impacted by student loans due to the ongoing effects of systemic racism, the inequitable distribution of wealth, and a stratified labor marker.

“To ensure the long-term health and vitality of our economy, communities, and civic society, Massachusetts must do dramatically better for students and families who have been underserved for far too long.

“We recognize that new leadership offers an opportunity to significantly impact students’ educational outcomes and lives for years to come. This is why we urge the Healey-Driscoll administration to address shortcomings in public higher education financing by ensuring that the increased funding from the recent passage of the Fair Share Amendment yields promising returns for students, their families, and the state.”

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The Education Trust is a nonprofit advocacy organization working to eliminate inequities in early through postsecondary education across the country. Our Massachusetts team serves as the convener for the Massachusetts Education Equity Partnership, a collective effort of social justice, civil rights, and education organizations from across the Commonwealth who are working together to advance education equity in the state.

OneGoal partners with high schools and colleges to ensure college and postsecondary planning, preparation and support are integral components of the high school experience for all students. We believe students from disadvantaged backgrounds – including students with limited income, students of color, and/or first-generation college-goers – should have the opportunity to achieve their greatest postsecondary aspirations.

uAspire is a nonprofit organization ensuring that all young people have the financial information and resources necessary to find an affordable path to and through college. Our singular focus is on college affordability and removing financial barriers so that every student has an equitable opportunity to attain a postsecondary degree without burdensome debt.

Bottom Line partners with degree-aspiring students of color from under-resourced communities to get into and through college and successfully launch a career. We are committed to building strong connections with our students, providing them with individual support, and ensuring they have the guidance they need to persist and earn a college degree.

For 29 years, Jumpstart has been fueled by the core belief that high-quality early education prepares young children for later academic and economic success. Jumpstart supports a thriving early education sector by providing high-quality learning experiences for children and by supporting young adults to enter the early educator workforce.

Journey into Education & Teaching promotes educational equity by mentoring urban public school paraeducators, the most diverse group of urban educators in the state, to complete their bachelor’s degrees, earn teacher licensure and become the diverse teachers needed in their urban communities. JET guides paraeducators in college admissions, accessing vital financial aid, and provides one-on-one mentoring by an experienced educator throughout this multi-year pathway to become a licensed teacher.

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