Increased Funding for Public Higher Education

The Problem
Public Higher Ed Needs 

State funding for our community colleges, state universities and the UMass system has declined by nearly one-third since 2001, which has led to:

Staggering — and in some cases prohibitive — increases in tuition and fees for students

Harmful reductions in staff, faculty and programs

Exploitative use of part-time staff, adjuncts and non-tenure-track faculty who are underpaid and lack health insurance, benefits and job security

Increasing amounts of costly building and infrastructure repairs, outdated technology, administrative bloat, and money spent on capital debt service rather than on students, staff and programs


The Solution

The Cherish Act

An independent report on higher education has found that, accounting for inflation and changes in student enrollment, allocations to public higher education in Massachusetts have been cut by 31 percent since FY01. The same report found that the share of higher education costs borne by students and their families shifted dramatically over this same period, from approximately 30 percent in FY01 to approximately 55 percent by FY16.

The impacts of this chronic underfunding are keenly felt by both our students and our dedicated faculty and staff. The Cherish Act, filed by Sen. Jo Comerford (D-Northampton) and Reps. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and Paul Mark (D-Peru), would reaffirm the state’s commitment to public higher education by:

Implementing the core finding of the 2014 Higher Education Finance Commission, resulting in more than $500 million in additional funding for public higher education. These new funds must supplement — not supplant — existing funding.

Establishing in statute a fair and adequate minimum funding level for public higher education at no less than the FY01 per-student funding level, adjusted for inflation.

Freezing tuition and fees for five years, as long as the Legislature appropriates the funds required to reach FY01 per-student funding levels in five years.

Underfunding of Our Public Colleges and Universities

This map shows how much the appropriation for each public higher education campus might increase under the Cherish Act (H1214/S741), which would restore appropriations to the level reached in FY 2001.

Methodology Behind Higher Ed Funding

Since their FY01 high point, inflation-adjusted, per-pupil state higher education appropriations have declined by 31 percent. The Cherish Act (H1214/S741) would restore appropriations to the FY01 level while freezing tuition and fees, resulting in an appropriations increase of $580 million over the FY19 General Appropriations Act amount if the act were fully implemented in FY20. The map shows how much the appropriation for each higher education campus might increase.

The act does not specify how the additional $580 million would be distributed. The data on the map are based on a particular approach to allocating the funds. There is no way of predicting the actual approach that the Legislature would adopt. Therefore, as with the Chapter 70 data, these numbers should not be taken as any kind of a guarantee. They also supersede the numbers that were formerly posted on this site, which were based on data that have since been updated.