Public College Should Not be a Debt Sentence!

Take Action to Win Debt-Free College in Mass.

THIS THURSAY 3/24

You might have heard the news that this week New Mexico became the 31st state to offer some kind of statewide debt-free college. We need your help to win that in Massachusetts!

PHENOM (Public Higher Ed Network of Massachusetts) and other groups need our help to advance a debt-free college bill in our state legislature. If it doesn’t move out of committee to a floor vote, this bill will die and will have to be restarted in the next legislative session. S829/H1339, An Act to Guarantee Debt-Free Public Higher Education,” would guarantee every Massachusetts resident has a right to a public higher education free of tuition, fees, and student debt and covers all MA public higher ed institutions, including UMB.

This legislation will create a grant program to cover tuition and fees for all MA residents to attend any MA public college, university, or certificate, vocational or training program. It will also cover additional costs of attendance (housing, transportation, books, etc.) for low income students. These funds will NOT affect eligibility for other financial aid.

Will you make 2 phone calls on Thurs. 3/24 to help win Debt-Free College in MA?

Any time between 9am and 5pm on Thursday 3/24 [tomorrow!], please call the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Higher Education and ask them to positively report out S829/H1339 “An Act to Guarantee Debt-Free Public Higher Education,” before the April 4th deadline. This will bring the bill to the House and Senate floors for a vote. Otherwise, the bill will die, and PHENOM will have to start over during the next State House session. Note that both these Chairs are big supporters of public higher education.

The Senate Committee Chair is Senator Anne M. Gobi of Central Mass. Her phone number is: 617-722-1540

The House Committee Chair is Representative David Rogers of Cambridge. His phone number is: (617) 722-2263

Some Talking Points:

  • When you call Senator Gobi’s and Rep. Roger’s offices, please give them your name and your UMass Boston affiliation (staff, student, alum, faculty, etc.).
  • The ask: you are calling to ask the Chair to please positively report out S829/H1339 “An Act to Guarantee Debt-Free Public Higher Education,” before the April 4th deadline.
  • Please also tell the Chairs why this legislation matters to you.

Some ideas on why passing S829/H1339 matters to so many people in Massachusetts:

  • I believe that access to debt-free, high-quality public higher education should be the right of every Massachusetts resident.
  • Cuts in state funding for public colleges are making it impossible for students and families to afford college. These cuts are now driving Massachusetts public college tuition and fees up faster than any other state in the country. 
  • Many students and their families are burdened by debilitating debt that severely limits their future opportunities.
  • The average student debt in Massachusetts is $37,172 growing.
  • Student debt affects most heavily Black, Latinx, other people of color, low-income and first generation students, who are the majority of our UMass Boston undergraduate students.
  • Massachusetts has the 10th highest student debt burden in the country and the sixth lowest public college budget.
  • 31 other state legislatures have passed some kind of debt-free college legislation. Our state legislature should join them!
  • YOUR THOUGHTS AND EXPERIENCES. . .

Please let us know what you hear from on your calls or hear back from the Committee Chairs. Share that information with our UMB PHENOM Organizer, Izabel.Depina001@umb.edu.

Author: Jack Owens

Jack Owens is a union activist and writer based out of the greater Boston area.

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