Debt Free Future

#DebtFreeFuture is a student-led, youth-driven movement for free public college and debt cancellation.

Photo: A student holds a sign reading “Public College Should Not Be A Debt Sentence” at Advocacy Day 2018. (Jen Ford/PHENOM)

The Debt Free Future Act (H.1265/S.823) would guarantee Massachusetts residents can graduate Massachusetts’ public colleges and trade schools completely free of student loan debt. 

There is no better time to demand tuition-free higher education as the student debt crisis worsens, public universities continue to raise tuition to exorbitant levels, and more and more well-paying jobs require some level of higher education. 

Education is the great equalizer. More education and job training lead to greater economic productivity, higher salaries, longer lives and lower crime rates. And for everyone to have equal access to higher education, making it tuition-free should be the bare minimum — as it already is in Germany, France, Denmark, Norway and many other developed countries. 

It is no wonder that Massachusetts is the most educated state in the nation and also one of the wealthiest, healthiest and most economically productive states.

But in recent decades, Massachusetts’ prosperity has become less and less accessible to all but a wealthy few who can afford it. Massachusetts ranks among the states with the most expensive public colleges as well as decades of decreased funding for public colleges, as the state legislature has consistently cut funding for decades.

According to a report by MassBudget, “Massachusetts lags other states in higher education investment. In 2021, Massachusetts ranked 45th in higher education spending as a share of income, and 34th in per capita higher education investments.”

In turn, more and more students have been crippled by student loan debt and have had to delay key milestones such as buying a home, starting a family or continuing their education just to stay afloat. Massachusetts families went from bearing 30 percent of college costs to 60 percent from 2001 to 2018. 

A look at past prices shows it doesn’t have to be this cripplingly expensive. While a year’s worth of in-state tuition and fees at UMass Amherst in the 2022-2023 school year cost $17,364, in 1980-1981 it cost only $4,333.23, adjusted for inflation.

While certainly not free, it goes to how much more affordable public college was even a few decades ago when the state actually prioritized giving universities the funding they needed. 

This is why we must turn the tide against constant cuts to higher education funding and the tuition hikes that result. We must stop the student debt crisis at the source by making our public universities tuition-free. 

According to State Rep. Natalie Higgins, the sponsor of DFF, the Endowment Tax Act would fully fund the Debt-Free Future Act. The bill would levy a 2.5 percent tax on all Massachusetts private universities with endowments exceeding $1 billion, which would provide over $2 billion in revenue and more than cover the Debt-Free Future Act’s estimated cost of $1.8 billion. 

By allowing millions to get a degree without worrying about crippling debt, passing DFF will ensure that Massachusetts can maintain its prosperity, not just for a wealthy minority but for all citizens.

Please help us pass the Debt-Free Future Act: email and call your State Rep and State Senator and ask them to support DFF! Click here to send an email to your lawmakers. Then, click here to make a call to your lawmakers.

The Legislation

“An Act to Guarantee Debt-Free Public Higher Education”

(S. 823/H. 1265)

Lead Sponsors:
Senator James B. Eldridge and Representative Natalie Higgins

By Mr. Eldridge, a petition (accompanied by bill, Senate, No. 744) of James B. Eldridge, Natalie M. Higgins, Jack Patrick Lewis, Carmine Lawrence Gentile and other members of the General Court for legislation to guarantee debt-free public higher education.