An Act relative to strengthening and expanding higher education opportunities

Summary

The bill incorporates various recommendations made by the Subcommittee on Student Loans and Debt of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, the Special Commission on Higher Education Quality, Efficiencies, and Finance, and the Special Commission on Educational Scholarships all of whom released their reports and recommendations last year.  As recommended by these reports, the bill seeks to: (1) promote financial literacy and early college planning and encourage saving for college; (2) increase timely completion of degrees and certificates; (3) increase state funds each year for the next five fiscal years for the operating line items for our public higher education institutions, with a requirement that if sufficient state funds are provided each year these institutions must freeze tuition and mandatory curriculum fees; (4) provide new state bond funding for capital improvements and maintenance projects at our public higher education institutions; (5) increase state funds each year over the next five fiscal years for the so-called MassGrant Program which helps needy Massachusetts’ students afford the cost of higher education; (6) encourage private giving to public higher education institutions; (7) support refinancing opportunities for student loans financed at high interest rates through the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority; (8) ensure collaborations and partnerships to promote savings and efficiencies among our public higher education institutions; and (9) support pathways to self-sufficiency and opportunity through paid internships.