Massachusetts Governor Wants Free Community College for Adult Learners
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- Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey's MassReconnect proposal would cover expenses like textbooks and fees in addition to community college tuition.
- Massachusetts residents who are 25 years or older and who haven't earned a college credential will be eligible for the program.
- The program will require a high school diploma or equivalent, but their GPA or where they attended high school won't factor into eligibility.
Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Maura Healey made free community college for adult learners a key campaign promise during her 2022 gubernatorial race. In her first months in office, Healey is pushing for the commonwealth to join dozens of states in offering free community college.
Healey's MassReconnect proposal aims to support "older and nontraditional students" by paying for more than just community college tuition: The proposed program would include other costs like mandatory fees and textbooks, according to Healey's website.
Massachusetts residents who are 25 years or older and who haven't earned a college credential, or have earned a certificate but want a degree, will be eligible for the program. The program will require a high school diploma or equivalent, but their GPA or where they attended high school won't factor into eligibility, according to the website.
"The program provides last-dollar financial support through grants and scholarships, leveraging existing federal financial aid available for students," Healey's website reads. "MassReconnect will also provide academic coaching to ensure that students are supported and given guidance while working toward their goals."
Healey last week again emphasized her commitment to the free community college program in a tweet.
“Any nation that out educates us will out compete us.” I like the way you think, @FLOTUS.— Maura Healey (@MassGovernor) February 8, 2023
That’s why I’m committed to creating and funding MassReconnect, offering free community college to students over 25 who don’t have a college degree.
Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges Executive Director Nate Mackinnon previously said the program would use existing financial aid, grants, and scholarships.
More than 1.8 million Massachusetts residents could qualify for the program based on 2020 census data, according to Healey's website.
Free community college in Massachusetts has been picking up steam among top state officials in recent months, BestColleges previously reported. State Senate President Karen Spilka said in January that it is "beyond time" to make community college free in the commonwealth and touted the measure as a top priority.
Thirty-one states currently offer free community college with varying eligibility requirements and a wide range of programs.
Massachusetts' neighbors New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Connecticut offer some form of free community college. Its largest city, Boston, has committed to pay up to three years of community college tuition for Pell Grant-eligible residents.