Public colleges enter limelight as private tuitions soar

Tim Goral's picture

Once overlooked amid the higher education elite of Massachusetts, the state’s public universities and community colleges are stepping into the limelight with increased funding, state-of-the art facilities, honors programs, affordable prices, and higher graduation rates.

With the rising cost of a private school education, combined with the public system’s big push to improve its standing locally and nationally, students are flocking to campuses around the state. Interest and enrollment is up not only at the system’s flagship — the University of Massachusetts Amherst — but at institutions including UMass Lowell, Salem State University, and the region’s two community colleges: North Shore, with campuses in Danvers and Lynn; and Northern Essex, located in Haverhill and Lawrence.

“We have been working very hard for the last five years to increase public understanding and recognition of the quality of what’s going on in public higher education and increasing support for it,’’ said Richard Freeland, commissioner of higher education in Massachusetts.

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