Federal and State Agencies Team Up with Boston Nonprofit to Help Students Make Smart Choices Federal and State Agencies Team Up with Boston Nonprofit to Help Students Make Smart Choices

August 21, 2012
Contact: Meghan Reilly, 617-973-3336, Meghan.Reilly@bos.frb.org or Lauren Nyren, 617-973-2872, Lauren.Nyren@bos.frb.org

An informative guide that will help students make more knowledgeable decisions about post-secondary education has been released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, and Crittenton Women's Union.

"Now, more than ever, higher education is needed for jobs leading to economic advancement," said Elisabeth D. Babcock, president/CEO of Crittenton Women's Union (CWU). "However, attending school can be expensive and sometimes students make ill-informed choices that lead to serious financial harm. We created this guide to help students make more informed decisions about post-secondary education."

The guide, "Higher Education in Massachusetts: Smart Choices, Great Futures", covers issues such as where to study, how to pay for school, how to stretch limited financial resources to cover the cost of education, how to avoid incurring too much debt, and much more. Written in a simple to understand question-and- answer format, this guide will be a useful resource for students, families, guidance counselors and social service providers. It also provides useful links to learn about a particular school's graduation rates, student loan default rates, and tuition costs, as well as information on student financial aid resources.

"Keeping consumers informed about the financial resources available to them is of the utmost importance," said Richard Walker, Senior Vice President of Regional and Community Outreach for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. "As the cost of education continues to rise, it is especially vital to keep students informed of potential money-saving options."

For example, Leonela Montalban, high school drop-out and a single mother of two boys, enrolled in a medical assistant program at a for-profit school she saw advertised on the subway and on television. After completing the program and obtaining a job in that field, the money she earned was not enough to pay rent, provide for her children, and meet the high monthly payments on her student loans. She is now in default on those loans. After enrolling in CWU's career development program, she learned that she could have received the same education at Bunker Hill Community College for less than half the cost.

"People need more information about all the programs that are available?not just the ones they see on TV and on the subway," said Montalban. "And they need more information about how to fund their education without getting into crippling debt."

"These are critical decisions about higher education that Massachusetts consumers are making every day," said Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. "It is very important that consumers fully explore and understand the financial consequences of their choices."

Free digital copies of the "Higher Education in Massachusetts: Smart Choices, Great Futures" guide can be downloaded at: www.bostonfed.org/education/pubs/smart-choices-great-futures/; www.mass.gov/ocabr; and www.liveworkthrive.org/research_and_tools/reports_and_publications. You can also request print copies by contacting Diane.Lawton@state.ma.us or Ruthie Liberman at RLiberman@Liveworkthrive.org.