NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Student leaders advocate for free college bill

Whether you’re into local politics or not – college students across Massachusetts are looking towards a particular bill heading to the State House soon.
Student advocates say we have a very real possibility of passing “an act to guarantee debt-free public higher education.” This bill (H.1339) proposes exactly what it sounds like: no more costly tuition to attend public MA colleges. The Board of Education would cover mandatory fees of students. Any Massachusetts resident with a high school diploma (or equivalent, like a GED) could be financially covered in any university program, certificate, or otherwise. It would be applicable regardless of full-time or part-time course commitments, and would not be restricted based on the area of study.
The state representative championing this motion is Natalie M. Higgins. Dozens more are petitioning for it as well, including more local representatives like 18th Essex District Rep. Tram T. Nguyen of Andover and Third Essex District Rep. Andy X. Vargas of Haverhill. Ultimately, proponents of this act take the stance that the Commonwealth should “guarantee free public higher education as a right for all residents.”
The bill details that eligible students and new graduates would be annually notified. There is also mention that mandatory fees like textbooks and materials could be covered as well. Some questions remain to be ironed out regarding its limits and restrictions. Is there a cap on semesters or credits? Are additional costs like transportation, technology, and access to the internet secured as well? How much of this is still up to negotiation?
The description of this bill is offered to the public online:
Student leaders here at NECC are eager to support this bill’s movement and petition for its growth and success. Andrew Venditti, last year’s Newman Civic Fellow and current Student Government member, is taking the lead in making the NECC student body aware of this great opportunity they could support in helping themselves and future college students.
Interested in learning more and advocating for this potential bill? You can sign the student-run petition in the C-Spurk Building on Tuesday (Feb 22) and Wednesday (Feb 23) from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.