Gov. Charlie Baker Introduces Bill to Increase Oversight of College Finances

Charlie Baker testifying before House Natural Resources Committee 02062019

In an attempt to curb the impact of unexpected college closings, Gov. Charlie Baker introduced legislation Wednesday that would improve the ability of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education to predict the likelihood of a college or university shutting down.

The bill would force any institution at risk of closing due to financial struggles to inform the Board of Higher Education. In addition, colleges would be compelled to provide a contingency plan that includes informing students ahead of time and arrangements for students that would allow them to finish their degrees.

The legislation would also give the Board the power to penalize any institution that does not follow these requirements.

“Massachusetts is home to an impressive collection of public and private colleges and universities that provide great educations, while also serving as major employers and drivers of business across the Commonwealth,” said Baker. “Our legislation will strengthen this crucial component of our economy, but most importantly it will help protect students and families from an abrupt closure that could significantly impact their lives.”

This legislation comes in response to a string of private colleges shutting down unexpectedly all over New England. Some institutions gave students little notice before closing, making it difficult for them to figure out how they will complete their college education.

“This legislation would ensure transparency and protection for both students and families,” Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said. “For those institutions at high risk of closure, we want to ensure sufficient notice to students and staff to make other arrangements so they can complete their programs of study with as little disruption as possible.”

The Boston Globe reported Tuesday that these small colleges are also struggling with low graduation rates, a problem that may be related to their financial problems. 

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