A series of amendments proposed by a Massachusetts lawmaker would increase funding to state colleges and universities that could freeze student fees for the next academic year.
State lawmakers are hashing out a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1st. As they do, Central Massachusetts Democratic Senator Michael Moore, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Higher Education, has proposed amendments to increase funding to community colleges, state colleges and UMass. He says more funding could relieve next year’s financial burden for many students.
“If we can obtain those levels of funding, we’ve got commitments from the three systems that they will hold their fees, they will not increase their fees,” says Moore, “which will hopefully increase accessibility to the various systems, and also hopefully reduce some of the student debt.”
The Umass system will freeze both tuition and fees if the state provides $478 million. The Senate’s current budget falls $23 million short, but Moore’s amendment would fill that gap. Umass student trustees have joined the call for more state money. Jen Healy is a junior, and a trustee at UMass Amherst. She says after several years of state cuts, her push for more funding goes beyond a one-year tuition freeze.
“It’s about reversing a trend of cutting the education budget for years, and years, and years, and if we were able to increase funding to public higher ed this year, that’s a huge change of pace, and it’s a reversal of what we’ve been seeing.”
The senate begins consideration of budget amendments this week.