Affordability Limits MA’s Higher-Ed Attainment Goals
Monday, February 13, 2023
Massachusetts is not only the most educated state, it also had some of the highest increases in educational attainment between 2019 and 2021, according to a new report.
The Lumina Foundation research showed more than 62% of adults, ages 25-64, have earned a postsecondary degree or workforce certification, outpacing the national average of about 54%.
Genesis Carela, Massachusetts state policy associate for The Education Trust, said despite the gains, higher education has become inaccessible for far too many.
"As one of the wealthiest states in our nation, there's definitely some glaring and growing gaps as to who can afford college," Carela pointed out.
Tuition and fees at Massachusetts public colleges have increased nearly 60% in the past two decades, while state-funded financial aid fell by 47%. Carela stressed it is concerning for students working in a knowledge-based economy which relies on workers with college degrees.
Revenue sources stemming from the Commonwealth's new "millionaires' tax" could help lower tuition, as well as increase academic supports for underserved students.
Carela noted a statewide shortage of school counselors is one factor forcing many families to navigate the college admissions process on their own.
"Some of these first-generation or low-income students," Carela observed. "They may not have all of the tools at their disposal, or at their family's disposal, to make some of these really informed, long-term decisions that will impact them for the rest of their lives."
Carela added schools could also help students by integrating counseling services with other departments such as financial aid, tutoring and career centers to improve the chances of students graduating without student debt limiting their futures.
Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.
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