Massachusetts launches free community college program

PROVIDENCE Attending community college is now free for millions of Massachusetts residents. 

Gov. Maura T. Healey on Thursday launched MassReconnect, her administration’s new program establishing free community college for Massachusetts residents 25 years old and older. 

Each of the commonwealth’s 15 community colleges have been awarded $100,000 to beginning implementing the program this fall. The funding covers the full cost of tuition and fees and includes an allowance for books and supplies and will support student and community program awareness, staffing and program administration. 

Healey earmarked $20 million in funding for this program in her fiscal 2024 state budget that was signed earlier this month. 

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“MassReconnect will be transformative for thousands of students, for our amazing community colleges and for our economy,” Healey said. “It will bolster the role of community colleges as economic drivers in our state and help us better meet the needs of businesses to find qualified, well-trained workers.” 

Eligible adults must be 25 and older and be a permanent Massachusetts resident for at least one year at the start of the enrolled term. The program is limited to residents who have not previously earned a college degree (associate or bachelor’s) who enroll in at least six credits per semester in an approved program of study leading to an associate degree or certificate at a community college. 

There is no deadline to sign up, however, the majority of community college programs begin the first week of September. Eligible residents must enroll in at least six credits per semester in an approved program of study leading to an associate degree or certificate. 

“There’s no doubt that with MassReconnect we will be able to change the lives of each of the students who take advantage of this historic opportunity to achieve their degree,” said Massachusetts Education Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler. “But beyond our students, this program will also strengthen the commonwealth’s economy and our public higher education system, By investing in our community college students, the Healey-Driscoll Administration is investing in the future of the commonwealth.”

About 6,500 to 8,000 community college students are expected to be supported in the first year of the program, which could grow closer to 10,000 students by fiscal 2025. 

In Rhode Island, residents can attend Community College of Rhode Island through the Promise Scholarship. Established in 2017, eligible high school graduates 19 years and older can attend the Community College of Rhode Island for two years of continuous full-time enrollment, with the state scholarship program covering the costs of tuition and mandatory fees less federal and all other financial aid monies available to the recipient-student.