Do High Salaries Make Massachusetts Higher Ed So Expensive?
For all of the talk of student loan debt retirement, there has been little discussion about reforming the higher education system.
In other words, should the government – ah, taxpayers – pay off student loan debt, the bills would only pile up again, but for the next round of college-bound students if there is no effort to address the high cost of higher ed.
According to the Education Data Initiative (EDI), "The average federal student loan debt is $37,388 per borrower." The website says, "Private student loan debt averages $54,921 per borrower."
EDI says, "The average student borrows over $30,000 to pursue a bachelor's degree." According to the site, "A total of 43.5 million borrowers have student loan debt; 92% of them have federal loan debt."
A number of proposals have been made at the state and local levels to "forgive" or cancel some student loan debt.
One-time federal pandemic relief dollars and money collected from opioid lawsuit settlements will repay more than $140 million in student loans for nearly 3,000 Massachusetts healthcare providers who serve "communities in need." An additional $120 million will come from the recently approved budget for fiscal 2024.
It's part of the MA Repay program launched by former Governor Charlie Baker in November 2022.
Why does higher education cost so much, and why are so many students faced with staggering student loan debt?
Part of the answer could be the cost of providing that education.
In Massachusetts, where the payroll topped $9 billion in 2022, MassLIVE.com says, "UMass employees constituted the state's top 20 highest earners last year, with Dr. Michael Collins, the chancellor of the UMass Chan Medical School," who was paid $1.32 million, "including a base salary of $905,212 and $419,400 in other pay, according to state data."
Boston 25 News provides a list of the top 20 earners at UMass.
The University of Massachusetts system had the highest payroll at nearly $1.7 billion in 2022. The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) was second at $664.14 million, and the Trial Court at $569.35 million.