The system of financing college through student loans has been a failed experiment. It has led to a vicious circle of increasing college costs and a growing student debt burden. It is unsustainable.

We must not only address the current debt burden but seek new, innovative ways to prevent future generations from being saddled with more student debt.

We are at a pivotal moment in our discussions around higher education. Students of color, low-income students, and women continue to be the ones bearing the brunt of this crisis. Continued inaction will only widen the racial, gender, and economic disparities we seek to eliminate through education opportunities.

At the Hildreth Institute, we are committed to fixing this broken system by creating innovative policy solutions at the federal and state level to invest in higher education, and strengthen the finances of our colleges and universities while eliminating the student debt burden.

Key Areas Include:

Eliminating Opportunity Gaps: Supporting programming to increase engagement in existing college affordability programs and financial capabilities among underserved communities, including BabySteps College Savings Program – which the Hildreth Stewart Charitable Foundation helped launch and provide critical seed funding for.

Reversing the chronic underfunding of public higher education. Working on research and education campaigns to show the stark underfunding of the state’s public colleges and universities. These vital institutions must be adequately supported so that they can provide a high-quality education to students, but right now degrees at these institutions are out of reach for many.  Key areas of research and education include: combatting the equity gaps in need-based financial aid; developing policy solutions for a high-quality debt-free public higher education; and the advancement of innovative programming to support public colleges and universities like the Endowment Match Program.

Changing the way higher education is financed to reduce the burden on students and families. Develop novel policy frameworks to move to a no interest student loan system with a cost offset at the federal level. Educating the public and policymakers on the need to simplify the state grant and scholarship system – a critical step to increase accessibility to higher education for all families.

Addressing the rising price of higher education. Research state-federal partnership and risk-sharing schemes to incentivize higher education institutions to lower their prices

Protect current students and the next generation of student borrowers. HI has led the education effort around establishing a Student Loan Bill of Rights in Massachusetts, giving borrowers access to the information they need to best manage their debt and protect themselves. In addition, we’ve worked closely with student victims of predatory colleges to help empower them as consumers and work toward stronger federal and state oversight over financially-unstable institutions.