get the facts
A Great Public Education Is Every Student’s Right
Public education is why Massachusetts is a great place to live and work. But our future is put at risk when some communities and students have access to a great public education, while other communities and students don’t.
This fundamental lack of fairness, and the risk it presents to our Commonwealth’s future, has happened because the state has not lived up to its promise to fund our public schools and colleges, as the state’s 2014 Higher Education Finance Commission and 2015 Foundation Budget Review Commission reports show.
We know what to do. We need to fund our public schools and colleges by passing these bills this spring – in time for local communities to include the funding in the next academic year’s budget and in time for public college students to avoid tuition and fee hikes this fall. Students can’t afford to wait.
How Much Is Your School District Owed?
Based on a simulation by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), the map above indicates, for each Massachusetts operating school district, the additional Chapter 70 aid the district might receive in fiscal year 2026 under the Promise Act (H.586/S.238), assuming that the Act is phased in over the FY20-FY26 period. The amounts shown are in addition to FY26 baseline Chapter 70 aid for each district, where “baseline” is the Chapter 70 aid each district is projected to receive if the Promise Act is not enacted. Amounts are based on a specific set of reasonable assumptions incorporated into the simulation. Accordingly, they should not be viewed as any kind of an aid guarantee.
The amounts shown here supersede the data formerly linked to on this website. Those figures pertained to a MassBudget report that simulated the distribution of Chapter 70 aid that might result from a particular way of implementing the proposals of the 2014-15 Foundation Budget Review Commission. Unlike the numbers presented here, those data were not based on a specific legislative bill.
Since their high point in FY01, inflation-adjusted per-pupil state higher education appropriations have declined by 31 percent. The Cherish Act (H.1214/S.741) would restore appropriations to the FY01 level while freezing tuition and fees, resulting in an appropriations increase of $580 million over the FY19 General Appropriations Act amount if the Cherish Act were fully implemented in FY20. The map above shows how much the appropriation for each higher education campus might increase.
The Act does not specify how the additional $580 million would be distributed. These figures are based on a distribution of the $580 million based on the current distribution of state funding for public higher education institutions. There is no way of predicting the actual approach that the Legislature would adopt. Therefore, as with Chapter 70 data, these numbers should not be taken as any kind of a guarantee. They also supersede the numbers formerly linked to on this website, which were based on data that have been updated.
The 2015 Foundation Budget Review Commission found that the Commonwealth’s public school funding formula is outdated — and that the foundation budget is too low by more than $1 billion.
The Promise Act, filed by Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Boston) and by Reps. Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke) and Mary Keefe (D-Worcester), would over a period of time implement the four core recommendations of the commission to increase the foundation budget, resulting in more than $1 billion in new state funding. The bulk of those funds would go to districts with the greatest need and fewest resources. The formula would be changed to:
- Realistically account for districts’ health care costs by using actual data to set insurance costs and inflation rates in the foundation budget.
- Modernize the formula to provide adequate support for English learners and low-income students.
- More accurately account for special education costs to better reflect actual SPED enrollment and the total costs that districts bear for out-of-district students.
- Increase state aid to certain districts to mitigate losses to charter schools.
- Guarantee minimum annual state aid increases to all districts of $50 per pupil.
A recent report found that, accounting for inflation and changes in student enrollment, public higher education in Massachusetts has been cut by 31 percent since FY01.
The same report found that the share of higher education costs borne by students and their families shifted dramatically over this same period, from approximately 30 percent in FY01 to approximately 55 percent in FY16.
The impacts of this chronic underfunding are keenly felt by both our students and our dedicated faculty and staff. The Cherish Act, filed by Sen. Jo Comerford (D-Northampton) and Reps. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and Paul Mark (D-Peru), would reaffirm the state’s commitment to public higher education by:
- Implementing the core finding of the 2014 Higher Education Finance Commission, resulting in more than $500 million in additional funding for public higher education. These new funds must supplement — not supplant — existing funding.
- Establishing in statute a fair and adequate minimum funding level for public higher education at no less than the FY01 per-student funding level, adjusted for inflation.
- Freezing tuition and fees for five years, as long as the Legislature appropriates the funds required to reach FY01 per-student funding levels in five years.