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Troubling Trend: "Greater Financial Burden" for Public University Students

A new report says state funding cuts at Massachusetts' state colleges and universities mean students are picking up a bigger portion of the tab. (UMASS)
A new report says state funding cuts at Massachusetts' state colleges and universities mean students are picking up a bigger portion of the tab. (UMASS)
December 14, 2016

BOSTON – Local high school graduates are paying more for their college education, and according to a new report, that trend could spell bad news for the state's economy. The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center report outlines a pattern of declining funding for public universities and colleges.

The Center's executive director, Noah Berger, said in-state schools are where the majority of high school graduates pursue their higher education goals, and those students are being asked to bear an ever-increasing financial burden.

"We see a trend in this report of declining state support for public higher education; significant funding cuts over the last 17 years," he said. "That shifts cost onto students and could weaken our economy in the long run."

According to the report, states with the greater share of college-educated workers tend to have median wages around $20 an hour, while states near the bottom have wages around $15 per hour.

The report said three out of four Bay State students now take out loans to go to college. Berger said the primary cause for the increase in student debt is the drop in state support for higher education, including cutting state scholarships by almost a third.

"Since 2001, funding is down 31 percent on a per-pupil basis; that translates into $3,000 per pupil, per year," he added. "And the danger is creating financial obstacles, in front of kids who are working hard in high school and want to go to college."

The report noted that graduates of public colleges and universities are more likely to remain in state, and contribute to the local economy.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA