Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Higher Education in Danger for Bay State?

I'm a proud graduate of UMass-Amherst, along with two of my brothers. My little sister is currently attending UMass-Dartmouth. Thanks to hard work, scholarships, and my parents' savings, we were fortunate enough to attend college and graduate with minimal loans. Now I have a great job doing something I love - and this wouldn't have been possible without my college edu-ma-cation.

"Duh," you might say. "College gets you ahead."

However, young adults in the Commonwealth may not be as lucky as we were. This morning WBUR (my local NPR station) had a piece on how the non-profit Massachusetts Education Financing Authority has not been able to secure any funding for its low cost college loans programs. That's zero. Zilch. Nada. No money for their loan program, which has been helping out students for over 25 years.

Bob Oakes, the interviewer, seemed taken aback by this. "Not a dime?"

They were looking to raise close to $600 million for student loans, and blame the credit crunch for their difficulty. Various politicians have written letters to other politicians, but we all know where that will go: Nowhere.

As the director of MEFA said, this problem is going to have an immediate impact on Massachusetts. If students can't get funds, they won't be going to college, which will mean we will have a larger uneducated work force, and potentially a larger drain on social services. Students and their families may leave Massachusetts to live in other states where more funding may be available, or state schools are more affordable.

Can anyone say, "Brain drain?" Massachusetts, currently a state known for (and proud of) its well educated workforce, could be on the road to a big fat nowhere.

Did you get loans for college? What would you have done if the money just wasn't there?

Will there be fewer ecstatic graduates in Massachusetts in four years?

1 comment:

Megan said...

When I heard this story I was really sad. I hope they find a way to continue this program, my parents used a MEFA loan to pay my way through UMass. I would have had a lot more debt on my plate if that hadn't been available to my parents.

This is a great program, and hopfully they can figure something out to keep it going.