What Do We Want?

Well, of course we want high quality, well-staffed, affordable public higher education accessible to all and free in the long run.   But right now, here’s what we are asking the Legislature to include in the FY 2013budget, and why.  PHENOM urges campus groups to organize students and others to call or write their legislators to ask for: 

1) At least a 5% increase in the operating budgets of our public campuses.       Historically, the state has funded about two-thirds of campus budgets.  In recent years, this number has dropped well below 50% and is still falling.   From FY 2001 to FY2011, state support per full-time student fell 37%.  Since then, enrollment has continued to increase, state support has dropped further, administrators have had to raise fees, and the student debt crisis has exploded. An additional 5% would not return Massachusetts to pre-recessionary numbers, but it would be a significant step forward and would demonstrate a commitment by the legislature to invest in our future workforce.  [The Governor proposed level funding except for a 5% increase for community colleges tied to an ill-advised reform proposal.]

2) A collective bargaining reserve to fund negotiated staff and faculty contracts.      Funding for contracts negotiated by staff and faculty unions have traditionally been funded by the Legislature, but this has not been consistently true recently.  If funds are not appropriated, then the money for raises must come out of campus operating budgets and, ultimately, out of student fees or program cuts.  [The Governor proposed a collective bargaining reserve in his budget proposal.]

3) At least a 5% increase in the scholarship account (7070-0065) .                Average tuition and fees at public 4 year school are 30% above the national average; it’s 52% above at community colleges.  The total unmet need for students in our public institutions who completed a FAFSA was approximately $193 million in 2008-09.  This figure is much higher today.  We all know students who have not enrolled or have dropped out because they couldn’t afford it.  This hurts them, their families, and the state’s economy.  [The Governor has proposed a very tiny decrease in the financial aid budget.]