Docket Numbers: H.D. 3443, S.D. 2041, H.D. 2634

State support and funding for public higher education has fallen by 31% per student since 2001 in Massachusetts. Over the same time, total tuition and fees has grown by $2,500 per year at community colleges, $4,700 per year at state universities, and $5,400 per year at UMass campuses. Beyond that, half of our state’s public scholarship goes to fund private universities where we can’t control skyrocketing costs. Right now, the UMass system provides more scholarships to students than the state government does.

That’s why a grassroots group of students, families, faculty, unions, staff, administrators and community members, the Public Higher Education Summit Group, developed the Finish Line Grant.

The Finish Line Grant would put money back into our public higher education system, encourage college completion, increase college affordability and help students in need.

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What is the Finish Line Grant?

Each grant would provide one full year of tuition and fees after a student’s first year at any community college, state university, or UMass campus. The student would need to apply, have a GPA higher than 2.0, and have a household income less than twice the median household income in Massachusetts ($135,692 as of January 2017).

Who is sponsoring it now?

MA Senate

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R – Gloucester)*

MA House

State Rep. Sean Garballey (D – Arlington)*
State Rep. Natalie Higgins (D – Leominster)*

*Lead co-sponsor

What organizations support the Finish Line Grant?

  • Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA)
    The Finish Line Grant is supported by faculty and staff, who know that students are having to work too many hours, and are graduating with too much debt.
  • Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM)
    PHENOM is a grassroots, member-based organizing leading the fight for high-quality, debt-free public higher education in Massachusetts.
  • Massachusetts State Universities Council of Presidents
  • Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office
  • UMass President Marty Meehan
  • Massachusetts Department of Higher Education

Has it been tried before?

Our neighbors in New York and Rhode Island are building the fight for debt-free public higher education. As the education state, Massachusetts must lead the charge for high-quality, debt-free public higher education, and that means supporting the Finish Line Grant bill that provides real relief to students who are trying to complete their degrees.

New York

Just this January 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed free public college and university tuition for students whose families make less than $125,000 a year. This is a great step towards building our movement. But Bay Staters are not followers, and we need Massachusetts to take the lead with the Finish Line Grant! (New York Times)

Rhode Island

Just two weeks after the announcement from NY, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo proposed two free years of tuition and fees at public colleges and universities in RI. We were so happy to see that our next door neighbors are leading the charge for high-quality, debt-free public higher education. (Inside Higher Ed)

What are the chances?

Support for the Finish Line Grant has grown substantially over the past two years. With your help, we believe now is the time to reverse the long-term trend of state divestment from our public higher education system.

A well-funded public higher education system is essential to defending our democracy in dangerous times. Massachusetts must lead the charge to reduce income and wealth inequality, fight for working families, and expand access to higher education.

Take Action Now

Full Text:

Bill HD.3443 — An Act to establish a finish line grant program to encourage college completion

Bill HD.2634 — An Act to fund a more affordable public higher education system in Massachusetts

Bill SD.2041 — An Act Relative to the Finish Line Scholarship Program