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Even With ‘Free Tuition,’ Equity Can Be Elusive

April 4, 2019
By Bob Giannino

Even With ‘Free Tuition,’ Equity Can Be Elusive

As the leader of a national nonprofit focused on student-centered financial aid counseling, I was inspired by the revealing insights on a complex and sometimes misleading concept in “Tuition-free, but access still sketchy” (Metro, March 29). “Free college” is certainly an honorable goal, but it requires thoughtful deliberation on the potential for its uneven impact, as Ysabelle Kempe points out in her article. This is especially so when there are egregious efforts to fabricate access to higher education for students of wealth and privilege at the expense of young people of great promise and potential.

With that in mind, we are encouraged by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education’s recent decision to approve a new equity vision statement pertaining to enrollment and attainment goals. We support this position wholeheartedly, and see this as an important first step in addressing the inequity evidenced in the report by Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. MassBudget also deserves praise for its valuable research and equity lens.

Our organization’s policy focus, in Massachusetts and at the federal level, is to change systems by working with institutions and policy makers to make the financial aid process more transparent, consistent, and student-centered. We hope that by working together, we can harness our collective experience and knowledge toward solving the challenges that young people face to make their dreams of higher education a reality.

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