BOSTON (WWLP) – At a crowded State House hearing Tuesday, members of the Public Higher Education Committee heard from students and parents who are financially crippled by student loan debt. 

Eleven percent of students at UMass Amherst are homeless, and 1 in 4 students experience food insecurity. They scrimp on room and board because they’re putting so money towards tuition.  

When Northampton State Senator Jo Comerford heard about the problem she filed the ‘Cherish Act’ which aims to reinvest $500 million in the state’s public colleges. 

“We’re actually going to hold tuition static and give students a chance to catch their breath even as campuses get the kind of necessary infusion so we can actually so we can actually begin rebuilding to that moment when students weren’t crushed with debt,” Senator Comerford said. 

Senator Comerford said many of her colleagues in the legislature and education professionals from across the state have come out in support of the ‘Cherish Act.’

They believe better funding for public higher education would result in many financial benefits for the state.

“We need to make more of an investment in public higher education, I think it’s key to the economy in Massachusetts, we’re an innovation economy and we need a highly skilled workforce and there are too many students that simply can’t afford it,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. 

Many believe the ‘Cherish Act’ is the first step toward providing every Massachusetts resident with an opportunity to improve their future prospects.

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