BOSTON (WWLP) – The Cherish Act aims to reinvest $500 million in the state’s public colleges, and if it passes this session, education advocates say both students and faculty would benefit from it.

The Cherish Act was filed by Northampton State Senator Jo Comerford to update the way the state funds public colleges. Currently, 11 percent of students at UMass Amherst are homeless, and one in four students experience food insecurity.

The Cherish Act is meant to alleviate student debt, and allow students to focus on learning.

“We have the opportunity to make Massachusetts public higher education as great as Massachusetts private higher education we just need the funds and the support from the legislature to do that,” Jennie Rebecca Falcetta told 22News.

The average college student in Massachusetts has upwards of $30,000 in student loan debt. That baggage is preventing them from starting life after school and contributing to the Massachusetts economy.

Lawmakers last year passed a bill to adequately fund K-12 education and now college students say it’s time to do the same thing for public higher education.