Students attending one of Massachusetts’ fifteen community colleges may now receive state grant funds they wouldn’t have been previously eligible for. This year, Governor Charlie Baker’s administration made an additional $7.5M available to expand MASSGrant and provide funds to some of the state’s neediest students through a new program called MASSGrant Plus. One of the largest differences between MASSGrant Plus and the legacy program, is that community college students only need to be half-time (at least six credits per semester) to be eligible–the first time in the state grant’s history.
Why is the additional money intended for only community college students? According to the Governor’s team, these students have the highest need in the state and are most likely to drop out due to lack of funds. In addition, 63% of the state’s community college students currently attend part-time, making them previously ineligible for MASSGrant. Baker said in a statement, “MASSGrant Plus is an opportunity to provide critical support for an expanded population of people interested in pursuing the opportunities a community college degree can create. We were pleased to work with the Legislature to pass this bill to aid students and increase their likelihood of earning an associates’ degree or transferring to a four-year institution to earn a bachelor’s.”
Community colleges will begin awarding MASSGrant Plus this fall semester to eligible students who completed the FAFSA prior to November 1. Students do not need to complete any additional applications beyond the FAFSA or request the funds from their school as colleges will automatically determine the student’s eligibility. Award amounts will vary based on each student’s demonstrated financial need, although the state estimates the average award will be $750 per student per academic year for the approximate 4,700 students who may be eligible.
HEAG continues to bring you the latest national news on community college financial aid programs. For previous articles, studies and data trends, visit our Community College Watch page.