THE RECORDER: Keeping college affordable

Career College Central Summary:

  • By Rep. Paul Mark

    • The inability to afford a college education should never stand in the way of a promising student’s success.
    • I remember it like it was yesterday, I had made the decision not to return to college in the fall, and I was wondering where my life would end up. I was a student at UMass, but I realized I couldn’t afford to be there anymore and instead I needed to go out and find a full-time job. I knew my parents would be disappointed, and I was worried about my future, but I hoped I would find a way back to school to finish my education someday.
    • I was very lucky when I got hired as a lineman at the old Bell Atlantic telephone company and became a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers labor union. This was a good paying job with good benefits and a generous tuition assistance program.
    • Just 10 years later, I had completed an associate’s degree in telecommunications, a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s degree in labor relations, a law degree, and a doctoral degree in law and policy. I always had the talent and drive necessary to complete these educational programs. But without the financial opportunity I received, I would never have had the chance to fully succeed and complete my studies.
    • During the past legislative session I served as the House chair of a Subcommittee on Student Loans and Debt in the Legislature. I was honored to be appointed and eager to get to work evaluating and reporting on the problem and coming up with practical solutions that can be implemented at the state level. Our subcommittee held seven public hearings throughout Massachusetts, including one at Greenfield Community College, in order to make sure that students, parents, professors and administrators from each region had the chance to come to a local hearing and offer their stories, thoughts and ideas for solutions. The stories we heard were compelling and the suggestions that were offered were wide ranging and thought provoking. It reaffirmed what I already knew: I was only one of many students who struggled with finding a way to pay for college.
    • The subcommittee took what we learned and issued a widely circulated report on the enormity of the problem. This included a series of recommendations that can make college more affordable for all students in Massachusetts.

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