PHENOM to Release Startling New Research on the Causes and Consequences Student Debt Crisis in Massachusetts

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April 21, 2015

Contact: Natalie Higgins,, 978-227-8473



PHENOM to Release Startling New Research on the Causes and Consequences Student Debt Crisis in Massachusetts


On April 25, 2012, student loan debt topped $1 trillion. On the third anniversary, PHENOM (the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts) will release startling new research on the causes and consequences of the student debt crisis in Massachusetts.


The Causes and Consequences of Mounting Student Debt in Massachusetts, a report by Anastasia Wilson, a Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, sheds light on the real impact of student debt in the Commonwealth. Ms. Wilson received a grant from the Massachusetts Society of Professors to undertake her important research. PHENOM will be releasing statistics from the report throughout the week leading up to the report’s release on its website on April 25th (


In Massachusetts, unlike most other states, a higher proportion of public college students graduate with debt than their peers at private institutions. Moreover, the cost of attending public 4-year institutions more than doubled between 1987 and 2010. “This is especially problematic because nine out of ten public college students stay in the Commonwealth after graduation,” says Ms. Wilson. She calculated Massachusetts borrowers’ cumulative wealth loss per year in foregone savings and equity. These numbers will illuminate just how massive of an impact student debt is having on the Commonwealth.


Ms. Wilson’s research backs up what we already know: that students are being forced to choose between making their student loan payments, and other important life choices like buying a new car, a new home, getting married, having kids, and saving for retirement. Natalie Higgins, PHENOM’s Executive Director, commented, “We support both short-term steps like Senator Warren’s Student Loan Refinancing bill and longer-term solutions that would significantly reinvest in public higher education, ultimately making it free and accessible to all residents in the Commonwealth.”



PHENOM unites students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others from community colleges, state universities, the UMass campuses, and the broader community to advocate for better funded, affordable and accessible public higher education in Massachusetts. The 500,000 people who make up the Massachusetts public higher education community are the sleeping giant of Massachusetts politics. By mobilizing a large and engaged grassroots network, PHENOM is waking up this sleeping giant so we can get the resources to create the public higher education system we and our children deserve.