Max Page: Free public higher education is within state’s reach

Last modified: Thursday, August 13, 2015

To the editor:

In your Aug. 5 editorial about reducing tuition and fees for University of Massachusetts students, you correctly suggest that UMass should lower or eliminate the fee increases it imposed now that the Legislature has added $5.2 million back into the university’s budget.

You write, “It’s time to shift the burden of cuts at least partly off students’ backs.” How about replace “partly” with “completely”?

In many countries in the rest of the world — Germany, for example — and in several states — such as Mississippi and Georgia — some part of public higher education is free. Recently the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center issued a report that shows that free public higher education is within our grasp.

It would cost the state about $127 million to eliminate tuition and fees for all current community college students, about $198 million for state university students excluding UMass (or $325 million for both community college and state university combined), and about $631 million for state students at all campus types including UMass.

These are big numbers, but hardly insurmountable in a $40 billion state budget and especially when you consider that there is no better economic investment than the education of our people.

Max Page


The author is a professor at UMass Amherst, and on the board of PHENOM, the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts.


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