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UMass Dartmouth AFT Locals Advocating For Greater Investment, More Affordability in Massachusetts’ Public Colleges

As a new report reveals that Massachusetts students are being priced out of public college by rising tuition and fees, members of the UMass Dartmouth Faculty Federation are advocating for greater state investment in Massachusetts’ public colleges in order to make them affordable to the middle class again.

“Earning a degree from a state college – which was once heralded as a pathway of opportunity – has become completely unfeasible for most middle-class families and students across Massachusetts,” says Dr. Grant O’Rielly, President of the UMass Dartmouth Faculty Federation.

The new study from the Hildreth Institute, a local higher education policy think tank, found that tuition and fees at the state’s public colleges and universities have increased at one of the fastest rates in the nation, drastically exceeding family incomes. Since 2000, median family income in Massachusetts has risen only 13%, but even after adjusting for inflation, tuition and fees at Umass Dartmouth have increased by 57% – a $6,205 price hike. That's the second largest hike in the UMass system (behind UMass Lowell at 59.6%).

“The faculty see it on our campuses and in our classrooms. Enrollment is down. Students and families are being told that in order to attend a state school, they’ll need to take out burdensome loans because even the maximum amount of state aid will cover only a fraction of their costs," says Dr. O’Rielly. "If we’re serious about supporting and lifting up families across the state and serious about ensuring that we prepare the youth of Massachusetts to contribute to the future economy of the Commonwealth – breaking down the barriers to public higher education is a critical first step.”

As they advocate for affordability in our public colleges, the UMass Dartmouth Faculty Federation is joining AFT Massachusetts members across the state in engaging in the campaign to pass the Fair Share Amendment, the proposed state tax on annual incomes above $1 million which will appear on the November 2022 statewide ballot. The Fair Share Amendment would generate over $1 billion every year for spending on transportation and public education, including making public college more affordable.

“Passing the Fair Share Amendment will help us make our public colleges more affordable, improve our public schools, and rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges, and public transportation infrastructure,” says AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “It’s the best investment we can make for the future of Massachusetts, and AFT Massachusetts is all in to win the Fair Share campaign on the ballot this November.”

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