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Mass. college students face rising debt

BOSTON — The state’s higher education commissioner says more students at Massachusetts public universities and colleges are incurring larger amounts of debt to finance their educations, a trend that could have dire consequences for the region’s economy.

Commissioner Richard Freeland told lawmakers Monday that the risk of incurring high debt could dissuade some people from attending college at a time when the state more graduates in science, high technology, and health care to compete in a global economy.

He says the average debt for graduates of the University of Massachusetts system, other state universities, and community colleges increased 27 percent from the 2008 fiscal year through 2011, the last year for which data are available.

Freeland says the state needs to boost funding for higher education.

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