“Planning for College” event calls for larger consumer role in higher ed

Congressman John Tierney gave the keynote address at MassINC’s recent event at Suffolk University, “College Planning in a Consumer-Focused Higher Education Marketplace.”  The event was a discussion about MassINC’s latest research report, Planning for College: A Consumer Approach to the Higher Education Marketplace, which calls attention to the rising costs and complex financial decisions facing families as they decide where to send their children to college.

Tierney, a senior member of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, spoke of both challenges and victories in the effort to build a college-educated workforce, a goal Tierney said is imperative to maintaining a strong national economy.  After addressing the crowd of about 100, Tierney joined a panel of higher education experts that included Thomas Graf, Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority Executive Director; Craig Powell, ConnectEDU CEO; Richard Doherty, President and CEO of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts; and Mary Grant, President of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.  The panel was moderated by MassINC Executive Vice President John Schneider.  Planning for College author Tony Broh also spoke on the issues raised in the report.


Panelists discussed the problems families face deciding on colleges and universities with little understanding of their real costs, focusing more on factors such as campus culture rather than job placement rates and value for their money.  The panelists placed emphasis on what the state and higher education community can do to provide more consumer-friendly information to parents and students going through the process.  Suggestions ranged from encouraging more students to look at public higher education to reaching families in a more engaging way through web-based programming. 


The Planning for College report, and event, are components of the MassINC Family Financial Skills Initiative, which explores new pathways to help families navigate the complex financial decisions increasingly tied to major milestones of American life. The project is made possible with generous support from the Highland Street Foundation, the State Street Foundation, and the Cabot Family Charitable Trust.  Read a transcript of the event here.

About MassINC – The Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth (MassINC) is a nonprofit, non-partisan think tank and civic organization focused on putting the American dream within the reach of everyone in Massachusetts. MassINC uses three distinct tools – research, journalism, and civic engagement – to fulfill its mission, each characterized by accurate data, careful analysis, and unbiased conclusions. MassINC sees its role not as an advocacy organization, but as a new kind of think tank, rigorously non-partisan, whose outcomes are measured by the influence of its products in helping to guide advocates and civic and policy leaders toward decisions consistent with MassINC’s mission, and in helping to engage citizens in understanding and seeking to influence policies that affect their lives.



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