Massachusetts Senate Approves Free Community College

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The Massachusetts State House (Photo courtesy of King of Hearts/Wikimedia Commons)

The Massachusetts Senate approved a nearly $58 billion state budget proposal last week, which includes a plan that would secure free community college across the state. 

The latest provision in the budget calls for a $117.5 million investment in free community college to all state residents. Under the new proposal, known as MassEducate, the initiative would invest $75.5 million in new spending to cover tuition and fees for state residents and offer a stipend to low-income students for books, transportation and childcare, supplies, and other costs. Additional funds would be set aside for students who experience financial challenges during enrollment.

“I’m thrilled that we have taken access to higher education to the next level, as this initiative will bolster our educated workforce and lay the foundation for generations to come,” said Democratic Senator Michael J. Rodrigues in a statement earlier this month. “Tuition-free Community College impacts individuals most in need and whom otherwise would not be afforded this opportunity. It will greatly help to keep our workforce graduates stand ready to meet the challenges of a global economy.”

Current programs in the state are already advancing the goal of free education. MassReconnet, led by the Department of Higher Education in partnership with Massachusetts’ public community colleges, covers tuition and expenses for students who are 25 or older. Other initiatives allocated more than $18 million toward free nursing programs.

MassEducate will build upon these programs and expand opportunity to all state residents, advancing economic prospects, workforce development, and access to higher education.

The budget will now be sent to the state House and Senate committees for final review before the fiscal year in July.