Tamar Stollman: More higher education funding would benefit state and students 

  • In this Oct. 21, 2016 photo, students pass the Old Chapel on the University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst. AP photo

Friday, March 08, 2019

When I first enrolled in the University of Massachusetts this past fall, I was happy to be attending a prestigious, top research institution at a low cost. I decided to come to UMass because it would not be a huge financial burden on my family or me.

But after being in college for a couple of months, I already started hearing about students that were dropping out. I couldn’t help but feel guilty that I would be graduating from college without debt, while students would be unable to pay for only one semester.

But even once graduating, students in the UMass system graduate with an average of about $30,000 of debt, which follows them for the rest of their lives. How can current college students be successful in making positive change and contribute in creating a prosperous economy when we won’t even be able to afford a down payment on a house or will have to worry about how we are supposed to pay for groceries for the week? Not to mention, the negative impact that debt will have on the Massachusetts economy as a whole.

While the state cannot cancel all debt, students have been advocating for more state funding for public institutions of higher education. There is current legislation, titled Fund Our Future in the Massachusetts Legislature that would increase the levels of state funding for public education. The Cherish Act would increase state funding for public higher education over five years, thus freezing tuition and fees. The Promise Act would increase funding for K-12 public schools, many of which are lacking important enrichment programs, funding to pay teachers and faculty, or to renovate school buildings.

The funding for these bills could come from a matter of sources, including implementing a progressive tax measure. The Public Higher Education Network of MA (PHENOM) is hosting a Higher Education Advocacy Day on March 21 where students from all public higher education institutions will be traveling to the Statehouse to advocate on behalf of the aforementioned bills to one day create a debt free future. All are welcome!

Tamar Stollman