What the Cherish Act Could Mean for You

On Monday, January 29, Massachusetts state legislators came to Bridgewater State University to discuss what is commonly known as the Cherish Act. This bill would work to, among other things, recruit and retain quality staff and faculty, increase student support services, and create a path to debt-free public higher education. As this legislation has been in process for several years, we decided to take this opportunity to ask our lawmakers, Bridgewater State University staff, and student leadership how much this bill would mean for Massachusetts students. 

Senior and student trustee Zachary Allen (he/him) spoke about the importance of earning a degree, and how we cannot let affordability prevent us from that opportunity. Head of Student Accessibility Services Jenna Shales (she/her) shared how maintaining high-quality staff members ensures the best quality education and environment for students. President of the Massachusetts State College Association Maria Hegbloom, (she/her) who organized the event, highlighted how students and voters can support the bill through the State House.

State Representative Carol Doherty (she/her) took the time to answer some questions about the bill. She stated as a member of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and a co-sponsor of the Cherish Act, she supports the bill immensely. Representative Doherty said that as the bill continues to be brought to committee, it continues to gain more and more support. There was also hope that even if this bill does not get passed as once piece of legislation, it may be passed as separate acts over time. This may be necessary, as Governor Maura Healey (she/her) continues to ask the legislature to “tighten their belts.”

The Cherish Act could change the trajectory of Massachusetts’ education system. As of 2023, free school lunches are provided to all K-12 students, as well as free tuition to all community college students over 25. There are also plans to expand the MassReconnect program to make community college free for all students. Currently amongst the states, Massachusetts ranks 37th in financial aid awarded to students and ranks 6th in the fastest increase in tuition and fees. The Cherish Act could correct this and place Massachusetts atop the country in terms of education standards.

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