Advocates Host MA State House Briefing on Public Higher Ed Finance
May 30, 2023
By uAspire & OneGoal
On May 18, 2023, advocates from Bottom Line, MassINC, OneGoal, and uAspire held a briefing on higher education finance at the Massachusetts State House. The briefing was moderated by uAspire Massachusetts Policy Director Femi Stoltz and included an expert panel discussion with Amanda Seider, executive director of OneGoal Massachusetts, Doug Howgate, president of Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, and Ben Forman, research director of MassINC, who presented an overview of MassINC’s recently published report, “Getting Question 1 Right: Investment Options for Equity in Public Higher Education.”
Representative Dave Rogers, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, delivered an informative overview of the Governor, House, and Senate budgets as they related to higher education while emphasizing the critical importance of supporting college students in the Commonwealth. Panelists discussed critical considerations for the legislature as they work to determine how Question 1 revenue can be used to begin transforming the public higher education system in Massachusetts.
Advocates noted that Massachusetts is well below the national average when it comes to providing state financial aid. This means public colleges and universities are unaffordable for many low-income students in this high-cost state; those who do enroll often face extreme financial hardship. They emphasized the importance of getting Massachusetts to at least the national average for state scholarship aid by providing an additional $190 million for scholarships for low-income students with unmet financial need. They also noted that Massachusetts can create a stable funding mechanism for student support, such as the $2,000 per Pell-eligible student proposed by the Board of Higher Education.
The MassINC report calls for policy changes in the near term to maximize the impact of this new spending. This includes simplifying state financial aid programs and clearly communicating new programs that make higher education affordable.
The briefing was closed with a spirited call to action by Bottom Line Success Program Director Carla Perez Garza.