Massachusetts to Expand Financial Aid for College Students With $62M Investment

The MASSGrant Plus Expansion covers tuition, fees, and expected family contribution (EFC), and provides a $1,200 stipend for part-time and full-time Pell-eligible students. Full-time middle-income students can have tuition and fees reduced by up to half of their out-of-pocket expenses.
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Published on November 20, 2023
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  • The MASSGrant Plus Expansion will retroactively cover the fall 2023 semester.
  • Qualifying students who have completed the FAFSA do not need to take any more action to receive the program benefits.
  • U.S. non-citizens and undocumented students may qualify for state financial aid thanks to the new state Tuition Equity Law.
  • The state announced the MassReconnect program earlier this year, a last-dollar scholarship for students 25 and older to attend state community colleges.

Massachusetts is axing costs for Pell Grant-eligible and middle-income students at state community colleges, universities, and the University of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll announced a $62 million investment in higher education as the MASSGrant Plus Expansion program on Nov. 15 while at Salem State University.

"For so many Massachusetts residents, higher education can be the ticket to their future career and economic stability. Our employers are looking to graduates of Massachusetts' exceptional public colleges to meet their workforce needs, and those graduates are most likely to stay in Massachusetts. But far too many people are held back from pursuing the education of their choice because of high costs," Healey said in the press release. "This expansion of MASSGrant Plus will open doors for more students to access higher education, which will strengthen our economy as a whole."

The MASSGrant Plus Expansion covers tuition, fees, and federal expected family contribution (EFC). It also gives Pell-eligible students up to $1,200 for books and supplies. Middle-income students, who earn between $73,000 and $100,000 per year, will have tuition and fees reduced by up to half of their out-of-pocket expenses.

Middle-income students must be enrolled full time to qualify for MASSGrant Plus Expansion, while Pell-eligible students can be part or full time.

The program will impact 25,000 students and will retroactively apply to the fall 2023 semester for currently enrolled qualifying students. Students who completed the 2023-2024 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) do not need to do anything else to benefit from the program; they will have their funds credited to their account for the current semester. The press release says that students who may qualify should fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible.

The state's new Tuition Equity Law will allow qualifying non-U.S. citizens and undocumented students who earned a high school diploma or equivalent to access state financial aid, as well.

Driscoll said 75% of public higher education graduates stay in Massachusetts.

"By making public higher education more affordable, we're helping to grow the next generation of leaders and talents in our state — the folks who will [stay] here to work, raise their families, and build their futures," Driscoll said in the release. "That's why our administration has taken numerous steps, from expanding MASSGrant Plus to making community college free for students 25 and old, to lower costs and increase access to higher education for everyone."

MassReconnect is expected to start in fall 2024.

Massachusetts' Big Investments in Higher Education

The MASSGrant Plus Expansion program is only the latest big investment by Massachusetts under Gov. Healey.

Earlier this year, Massachusetts invested $229 million into higher education institutions and scholarships as part of a $56 billion 2024 budget. The state is allocating $50 million over the next year for tuition-free college programs, $18 million for nursing education, and $20 million for the MassReconnect Scholarship, a free college scholarship for people 25 and older pursuing an associate degree or certificate from a community college.

The Commonwealth also launched a scholarship that allows aspiring nurses to attend community college nursing programs for free. Part of the $18 million allotted to that scholarship program will help recruit nursing faculty and staff to combat the national nursing shortage.