College students pushing Massachusetts lawmakers for free tuition

The average student debt in Massachusetts was more than $30,000 in 2015

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Hundreds of students from across Massachusetts lobbied lawmakers at the State House on Wednesday, asking for legislation to provide a year of free tuition for some students.

“Do I think they should be discouraged by the cost? I think they should,” said Anthony Gentile of Amherst. Higher education comes at a high cost, often creating debt that can take decades to pay off.

Bridget Lowry of Amherst said, “I definitely worry that when I get there and I get a job, I don’t want to be spending all my money on my kids and my house and still be in debt.”

A bill in the state legislature would establish a “Finish Line Scholarship Program,” providing a year of free tuition for students whose family income is less than $125,000 a year. The bill offers new hope for students, who find themselves further in debt, while the state cuts funding.

Gentile said, “It’s increased by around $2,000 just this semester. They had a tuition freeze for my freshman year to my sophomore year, but ever since then, it has been increasing around $1,000 to $2,000 per year.”

According to the Institute for College Access and Success, the average student debt in Massachusetts was more than $30,000 in 2015.