Friday, October 20, 2006

Affordable Higher Ed in Massachusetts

From my formerly adopted home state of Massachusetts comes a proposal to expand need-based grants to families with up to $70,000 in family income. The policy is coming from a legislative task force but would guarantee free or cheap tuition for a broader section of middle class Massachusetts students. Why is Massachusetts seeking to expand their grants?
"This is about the economy of Massachusetts," Higher Education Chancellor Patricia Plummer said of the new proposals. "The debt burdens that students are taking on only make living here that much more difficult. We want to try to keep young people here in Massachusetts."
The idea that "debt burden" is driving major higher education policy reflects a major step forward in public understanding of student loans in the last several years.

As an aside, the goal of keeping talented young college graduates in state is a motivation for a number of state-based efforts like the Maine students Anya has blogged about before. In the past this type of provincial policy focus has encouraged questionable policies like large merit aid programs. However, in these two instances it seems to be driving good policy in the northeast.

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