Daily Hampshire Gazette – Letter: Unlocking the potential of public higher education


In response to the recent article about the Amherst Town Council’s resolution supporting the Cherish Act, [”Despite doubts, Amherst Town Council backs bill boosting higher ed spending,” Gazette, March 8], the council’s endorsement of the Cherish Act is a smart move and illustrates the growing momentum for transforming Massachusetts into a hub of world-class public higher education.

As an educator at UMass Amherst, I have seen the positive transformation my students experience as undergraduates. I’ve met students from across the commonwealth, many coming from middle- and low-income families, who truly flourish and embark on promising careers once they graduate.

But unlike their wealthier peers, their education comes with strings: thousands of dollars in student loan debt. If you work hard and want to attend college, you shouldn’t be excluded simply because you come from a low-income family. Neither should you be forced to take on debt that can follow you to your grave.

In a state as wealthy as Massachusetts, everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. The Cherish Act would create a debt-free college plan that covers not just tuition and fees but also living expenses, including food and housing, which can often be significantly more expensive than just tuition and fees. Providing this financial support is critical to bringing down barriers faced by students who have trouble graduating because of cost. It could also help by making college affordable to those not currently enrolled, including larger numbers of people of color, and low-income and first-generation students. It’s a step in the right direction. Now legislators on Beacon Hill need to act.

Jerry Levinsky


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