On college costs, little relief in sight

US students carry $1.2 trillion in college debt — and Massachusetts is set to do its part to keep that staggering figure growing.

The Globe reports today that all of the state’s public colleges and universities are poised to raise costs for in-state students by 5 to 10 percent for the coming year, with the bump at two-year community colleges — the most affordable choice and one that many students from low-income families therefore gravitate toward — closer to the top of that range. The increases come after a hikes of 5 to 8 percent last year. Salary increases and health care costs for higher ed employees are the main culprits.

At Bunker Hill Community College, it will cost students about $390 more this year. For a student at Bridgewater State University, it will cost as much as $700 more this year.

If students and campus officials were hoping there might be some good news in the state budget that might offset rising costs, fuggedaboutit. The budget “includes virtually no increase in funding for public higher education,” writes Globe higher ed reporter Laura Krantz.

The cost of higher education has been a hot topic in the Democratic presidential primary, with Bernie Sanders proclaiming that he would make public higher ed tuition-free for all. Hillary Clinton has been under pressure to come up with a college-cost relief plan of her own, in part to appease Sanders and his restive supporters. Last week, she rolled out a plan — and Sanders is now poised to join her at a campaign appearance tomorrow in New Hampshire.

Unlike Sanders’s higher ed plan, Clinton’s is means-tested, though still quite generous. She would cover all tuition costs for families earning up to $125,000 a year. The outlines of Clinton’s plan, estimated to cost the federal government $350 billion over 10 years, require states to provide some matching funds and include measures to reduce costs at state schools.

The plan got positive reviews from some Bay State higher ed types, writes the Globe’s Michael Levenson, but its prospects don’t seem particularly rosy, given the Republican grip on Congress as well as the anti-tax posture of Republican governor Charlie Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo,

The bottom line is that the bottom line cost of attending state colleges and universities is heading up — and there’s little hope on the horizon that the trend won’t continue.

–MICHAEL JONAS

 

BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker “rightsizes” the state budget, cutting $256 million from the Legislature’s spending plan. (State House News)

An Eagle-Tribune editorial explores the fight between state Sen. Barbara L’Italien of Andover and Bob Landry of the Board of Selectmen over municipal retiree health benefits.

The state has raised $285 million in extra revenue since lawmakers boosted the cigarette tax by $1 in 2013, but activists are angry that most of the money has been put in the general fund with little going to anti-tobacco programs. (Associated Press)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Clergy in Boston churches try to take stock and point the way forward at Sunday services following last week’s horrific series of killings by and of police across the country. (Boston Globe)

Lowell launches a campaign urging people not to give money to panhandlers, saying the donations are not the best way to help them. (Lowell Sun)

The Fall River City Council will consider budget amendments and ordinance proposals from Mayor Jasiel Correia that will create new staff positions, eliminate another, and change the salary structure for some existing posts. (Herald News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

As much as it surely pains Hillary haters, equal application of the law — which they all say should be the rule — dictated that she should not face charges in the State Department email case, says Scot Lehigh. (Boston Globe)

A new study by a Harvard economics professor finds there is a racial imbalance in the use of force by police against blacks but no discernible difference in race when it comes to shootings. (New York Times)

Some officials say Texas’ open-carry law that allowed some marchers at the Black Lives Matter protest to carry their rifles added to confusion in the wake of the shootings of Dallas police officers and caused police to detain people as suspects. (New York Times)

Senate Democrats, including Ed Markey, are urging the Obama administration to stop the deportation of Central American refugees. (Boston Globe)

ELECTIONS

Politicians leading the fight against a ballot question legalizing marijuana say their focus is on teenagers and young people. (CommonWealth)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

In dueling takes on pay for low-wage workers, a Herald editorial decries the fact that Beacon Hill would not take up a Republican lawmaker’s proposal for a lower minimum wage for those under 18, while Renee Loth writes in the Globe that the “subminimum” wage is a horrible idea that doesn’t reduce youth unemployment.

Former governor Deval Patrick and his wife Diane finally sell their Milton home for $1.2 million. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

UMass President Marty Meehan, responding to attacks from the Pioneer Institute, says the school system has arrived and “we’re not backing down.” (Lowell Sun)

The first comprehensive study of early childhood education in all 50 states concludes it is a “disaster,” with low-pay and little training contributing to high turnover and inconsistent learning for students. (U.S. News & World Report)

Worcester educators are worried about a 22 percent dropoff in pre-kindergarten students. (Telegram & Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

In the second part of a Spotlight Team report on the failings of the state’s mental health care system, the Globe reports on the role of police, who are often the officials who end up having to deal with those whose problems government has not addressed in any sensible way up until that point. The outcome is often bad. It all adds up to a policy of “social Darwinism” for dealing with the mentally ill, writes Dante Ramos. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

A consultant’s report says the MBTA’s cash-counting operation is riddled with inefficiencies. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Pipeline firm Access Northeast says its opponents have it wrong; company officials say more gas would mean savings on electricity, a reliable power grid, and backup power for renewables. (CommonWealth)

Former state energy secretary Ian Bowles offers advice to the Legislature’s energy conferees. (CommonWealth)

John Judge of the Appalachian Mountain Club and Jane Difley of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests say Massachusetts should insist on the burial of any electricity transmission line through New Hampshire. (CommonWealth)

Animal rights activists are protesting the inclusion of bow hunting for deer at Blue Hills, claiming it is inhumane and turns a population control effort into a sport. (Patriot Ledger)

Workers demolishing a rundown home in Lanesborough discover and rescue a bee hive with 150,000 bees. (Berkshire Eagle)

Cape Cod National Seashore officials say they may not renew a permit for a North Truro campground after the town ordered the owner to cease clear-cutting trees to install an unapproved sewer line for camper hookups. The owner says if he cannot continue, he expects fair market value for the land from the government. (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Parents in Boston’s most violence-wracked neighborhoods fret about the safety of letting their children go outside with start of summer. (Boston Herald) Police say they are deploying added officers to so-called “hot spots” to try to prevent shootings there. (Boston Herald)

The boom of youth sports leagues around the country has been accompanied by an alarming rise in embezzling by adults in charge of the money, often worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. (New York Times)

MEDIA

Boston Globe owner John Henry literally stayed in-house in naming a new head of Boston.com — his wife, Linda Pizzuti Henry, will be the new boss. (Media Nation)

Sydney Schanberg, who grew up in Clinton and went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for his fearless  reporting, aided by Dith Pran, on Cambodia’s fall to the Khmer Rouge and inspired the film The Killing Fields, died at age 82. (New York Times)