Frequently Asked Questions

Massachusetts Student Public Interest Research Group

MASSPIRG is a statewide, student-directed organization that works to solve problems facing our society. We work with professional staff at colleges and universities across the state to make sure our peers have the skills, opportunities and training they need to create a better, more sustainable future for all of us. Our chapters provide the training, professional support and resources students need to tackle climate change, protect public health, revitalize our democracy, feed the hungry and more.

What does MASSPIRG do?

We run issues campaigns on issues that are in the public interest.  This can take a variety of forms, but usually involves advocates working directly with decision makers in Boston or Washington DC, along with students and organizers working in communities to build and demonstrate public support for our solutions.  Through that, we get results. For example, our professional advocates in D.C. helped prevent a proposed $2.6 billion cut to Pell Grant funding, protecting the ability for thousands of MA students to afford a college education. Student advocates lobbied congress to help get $5 million allocated for Open Textbook Grant programs that will save students an estimated $50 million in textbook costs. And the Open Education Resources program at UMass Amherst has already saved students over $2 million in the last 8 years.

How is MASSPIRG funded?

Students on campus vote to fund MASSPIRG through a small $9-$11 per-student per-semester waivable fee. Students pool their resources together statewide with other MASSPIRG chapters to hire staff, such as advocates and grassroots organizers, to work with them on issues that they care about. Students decide how best to spend their resources on the issues that they care about, such as fighting climate change, making college more affordable, and strengthening our democracy.

Every two years, students vote to fund MASSPIRG as a way to reaffirm student support for the work that we do. This collective decision by the student community says that students support MASSPIRG and the work we do, and as a community have decided to give us the resources to carry on this work on their behalf.

Why does MASSPIRG hire staff?

The problems that MASSPIRG undertakes are large, statewide, often national in scope. Our goals are not simply for students to “make their voice heard” on these issues, but to win concrete reforms that improve people’s lives. In order to make real, substantial change, we need organization and resources. Staff are an important part of having an effective statewide organization. They bring expertise to students’ ideas and continuity to long-term student campaigns.

Do students in each chapter decide what issues to work on?

Yes, students decide on the campaigns that they want to work on both locally and at the statewide level. Student can bring campaign ideas to the statewide board, a group of student representatives who are elected by their local chapters.  The problems that we face aren’t just local – everyone is fighting poverty, environmental destruction, and for affordable education across the state and the country.

Why does MASSPIRG work statewide?

We are working to make a difference at the systemic level. We build grassroots support locally but combine efforts from campuses and communities statewide so we can pass policy at the statewide level. The problems that Massachusetts faces do not only occur on campus. In order to fight climate change, protect public health, or make college more affordable, our staff need to go to the decision makers all across the state and in Washington D.C. With statewide grassroots support as well as our staff tackling problems from Boston to the Berkshires, we are able to take on the special interests that create these problems and actually win for students and the public interest.

What has MASSPIRG accomplished?

You can read about our recent accomplishments here!