Massachusetts Senate President Calls for Free Community College
Share this Article
- Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka called for free community college in a speech to her chamber.
- Thirty-one states currently offer free community college with varying eligibility requirements, including several of Massachusetts' neighbors.
- Legislation hasn't been filed yet for Spilka's proposal, according to The Boston Globe.
- A vast majority of Americans supported free community college in a 2021 BestColleges survey.
Dozens of states offer free community college to their residents — and Massachusetts may soon be joining them.
Thirty-one states currently offer free community college with varying eligibility requirements, according to BestColleges. Several of those states neighbor Massachusetts, including New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Connecticut.
As the Massachusetts General Court kicked off its 2023 legislative session, one of the state's top legislative leaders called for the state to enact a free community college program. Senate President Karen Spilka (D) said it is "beyond time" to make community college free during a speech to her chamber Wednesday, according to WBUR.
Spilka highlighted community colleges had key access points for people from low-income backgrounds, immigrants, and parents pursuing a higher education, The Boston Globe reported. The Globe reported that free community college legislation hasn't been filed yet.
While Massachusetts doesn't have a statewide free community college program, at least one major municipality in the state has a major assistance program. The city of Boston committed to pay up to three years of tuition for Pell Grant-eligible residents, according to the city's website.
A vast majority of Americans supported free community college in a 2021 BestColleges survey: Of the 2,613 who responded, 69% said they support the government providing two years of tuition for first-time students who attend public community colleges.
Although community colleges are key access points to higher education for historically underrepresented groups, the number of affordable community college options shrank nationally for students between the 2015-2016 and 2019-2020 academic years, according to a report last year by the National College Attainment Network.
Many community college students struggle with food and housing security, BestColleges previously reported, with a third of all respondents to a spring 2021 Center for Community College Student Engagement survey reporting that they ran out of food without enough money to buy more.
Students who were Native or Pacific Islander, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino/a, or American Indian or Alaskan Native were disproportionately affected by food insecurity.