Over the past few weeks PHENOM mobilized hundreds of people to try to influence the House budget. We urged Representatives to increase revenues and to increase need-based financial aid. We were partly successful, and now the focus is on the Senate.
Revenue: The House voted to increase the sales tax by 1.25 cents, generating about $900 million in additional revenue — hardly enough to deal with the enormous budget deficit facing the state, but a step in the right direction.
MASSGrant: The House voted to restore $10 million of the $14 million cut from the financial aid budget. This was a victory, but leaves us behind last year’s inadequate amount. See PHENOMs Fact Sheet on MASSGrant.
2 key senators have introduced 2 amendments to the Senate budget to increase need-based financial aid. Please call your State Senator today to urge him/her to sign on as co-sponsors.
What is in the Senate Ways and Means budget?
It cuts funding for financial aid significantly below what it is this year, and even well below the amount passed by the House, which includes a small reduction. It also includes some programs previously included elsewhere, so the real cut is even bigger than it appears. The budget includes no new revenues, but we are urging the full Senate to raise a large amount of new revenues in as progressive a way as possible.
What are the amendments?
One would give MASSGrant an earmark and guarantee that it would not be cut this year. The other would fund all of financial aid at the same level as the House. PHENOM is supporting both, even they fall short of what we were advocating for.
Who is sponsoring the amendments?
Senator Anthony Galluccio, current Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education
Senator Robert O’Leary, previous Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education
How can my Senator be supportive?
He/she should call Senator Galluccio’s office at 617-722-1650 and ask to be listed as a co-sponsor on the financial aid amendments. He/she can also sign on at the Senate Clerk’s office next week.
How can I find out who my Senator is?
Enter your street address at www.wheredoivotema.com.
Go to http://www.mass.gov/legis/memmenus.htm to find his or her phone number.
What should I say to the Senator or aide?
- Say briefly that you think making college affordable is critical for our students, potential students and a successful economic recovery.
- You recognize that the state budget is in crisis, and that’s why you will support the Senator if s/he votes for a tax increase, which should be done in as progressive a way as possible.
What’s the history of MASSGrant?
In 1988, MASSGrant covered 80% of recipients’ average charges; today it covers only 14%. Funding has been slashed while college costs have skyrocketed. The Board of Higher Education believes the program is currently under-funded by at least $14 million.
Show me the numbers
FY 2009 GAA Budget 7070-0065 96,875,218
Governor’s Budget 7066-0025 100,396,468 (includes some additional items)
FY 2010 House W&M 7070-0065 82,875,218
Department of Higher Education recommends additional $14.1 million for MassGrant. See page 13 of http://www.mass.edu/aboutus/documents/FAAP09-11.pdf
PHENOM asking for 110,975,218 and a separate line item for MASSGrant
House passed 7070-0065 92,875,218
Senate Ways and Means 7066-0025 84,024,779 (includes some additional items)
Senate Amendment 7066-0025 92,875,218
Messrs Galluccio and O’Leary moved that the bill be amended, in Section 2, in item 7066-0025, by inserting at the end thereof the following:-
“; provided further, that no less than $30,000,000 shall be expended for the MASSGrant program, to be administered by the Board of Higher Education Office of Student Financial Assistance in cooperation with the Commissioner of Higher Education.”
NEED-BASED FINANCIAL AID
Mr. Galluccio and Mr. O’Leary move that the bill be amended, in Section 2, in item 7066-0025, by striking the figure “$84,024,779” and inserting in place thereof the figure “$94,152,508”
FY 2010 Senate Ways and Means Budget
7066-0025 For a scholarship program to provide financial assistance to Massachusetts students enrolled in and pursuing a program of higher education in any approved public or independent college, university, school of nursing, or any other approved institution furnishing a program of higher education; provided, that all scholarship programs receiving funding through this item shall follow the same guidelines as detailed in item 7070-0065 of section 2 of chapter 182 of the acts of 2008; provided further, that funds from this item may be expended for the administration of the scholarship program; provided further, that the commissioner of higher education, in coordination with the Massachusetts state scholarship office, shall adopt regulations governing the eligibility and the awarding of financial assistance; provided further, that a program of financial aid to support the matriculation of certain persons at public and private institutions of higher learning who are in the custody of the department of children and families under a care and protection petition upon reaching the age of 18, or in the custody of the department matriculating at such an institution at an earlier age shall be funded from this item; provided further, that no such person shall be required to remain in the custody of the department beyond age 18 to qualify for such aid; and provided further, that this aid shall not exceed $6,000 per recipient per year; provided further, that this aid shall be granted after exhausting all other sources of financial support; provided further, that funds shall be expended for reimbursement of the adopted child and foster children tuition and fee waivers under section 19 of chapter 15A of the General Laws; and provided further, that no funds shall be distributed from this item prior to certification by the state and community colleges and the University of Massachusetts of the actual amount of tuition and fees waived for adopted and foster children attending public institutions of higher education under said section 19 of said chapter 15A that would otherwise have been retained by the campuses, according to procedures and regulations promulgated by the board of higher education…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. $84,024,779