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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

“Speak Out!” Against Cost of Higher Education

Speak Out! Against Cost of Higher Education

On Monday, December 7, students gathered on the first floor of the Campus Center to “Speak Out” against the cost of higher education. Ann Withorn’s “Public Higher Education for All?” class organized the “Speak Out” as a means for students to voice their frustrations with the rising cost of education.

Approximately 300 students mingled in and out of the “Speak Out” where free pizza was served compliments of the UMB Student Senate. Some simply listened to the voices of their peers, while many others chose to “Speak Out.” Speakers came from across the board: the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Public and Community Service, the Student Senate, the Board of Trustees, and faculty too. Students ranged from teenagers to parents of teenagers. UMass Boston is fortunate to have a diverse student body; and as a result, its students have diverse financial situations when it comes to paying for higher education.

One student spoke about having to work 48-hour work weeks while going to school full time to pay for his tuition and fees. Although his parents earned over $140,000, they were unwilling to co-sign loans leaving him to pay for his tuition up front. As a result of long work hours on both the evening and graveyard shifts after attending classes during the day, he was left without sleep for days at a time.

Many students cited transferring to UMass Boston for reasons of lesser tuition than other private schools and public schools in other states, however still struggled with loans and debt.

Students who are of senior citizen status found their difficulty in paying the increasingly rising cost of fees at UMass Boston despite tuition waivers. So often, it is the fees that make paying for college an impossible reach and cause debt for students.

Mothers returning to college, in order to secure a higher paying job, struggle to make ends meet while paying for their children to go to school as well. As a result, an entire family falls into debt. Other mothers acquiring debt from higher education wonder how they will be able to pay off their debt before it is time for their children to attend college.

Clearly, the students at UMass Boston have voiced their stories about the cost of paying for higher education. The bachelor’s degree is becoming as essential as a high school diploma, making it almost impossible to work one’s way up the corporate ladder to make a comfortable life for one’s self and family without it.

The overwhelming consensus at this event was that Massachusetts ought to make higher education a priority to its citizens. Higher education should be affordable and accessible to all its citizens. One speaker declared, “We are worth the investment of the state, each and every one of us.” Some participators in the event claimed that the more educated the population is, the greater our economy will be. Speakers declared that it is time that more resources, money and time go into public higher education in Massachusetts. Higher education is not reserved to the rich and privilege anymore, and the state of Massachusetts has the power to ensure that all its citizens receive a proper education.

Students were provided a fact sheet that stated some surprising statistics about the cost of public higher education in Massachusetts.

From 2001 to 2004 the Commonwealth decreased its funding for public higher education by more than any other state.

Massachusetts now spends more incarcerating its citizens than on its public colleges and universities.

Massachusetts families with incomes in the bottom 40 percent would need to spend 52 percent of their family income to pay the net cost of a public four-year college or university.

A study of recent high school graduates found that nearly half of those who did not attend or who dropped out of college cited financial constrains as a key obstacle.

Facts were provided by the Public Higher Education Coalition of the State of Massachusetts.