- Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll
- Executive Office of Education
- Department of Higher Education
Media Contact for Healey-Driscoll Administration Announces Historic Financial Aid Expansion for Massachusetts Public College and University Students
Karissa Hand, Press Secretary
Boston — Today, Governor Maura Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll announced a historic financial aid expansion that will benefit approximately 25,000 students attending the state’s public community colleges, state universities, and the University of Massachusetts. With close to $62 million in new program funding, the MASSGrant Plus Expansion program will cover tuition, fees, books, and supply costs for Pell Grant-eligible students and reduce out-of-pocket expenses for middle-income students by up to half.
Governor Healey announced the program this morning at Salem State University’s campus, along with Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler, Commissioner of Higher Education Noe Ortega, and Chair of the Board of Higher Education Chris Gabrieli. They were joined by Salem State University (SSU) President John D. Keenan; SSU students, faculty and staff; local and statewide elected officials; and public higher education leaders from across the state.
“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,” said Governor Healey. “This expansion of MASSGrant Plus will open doors for more students to access higher education, which will strengthen our economy as a whole. We’re grateful to our Legislative partners for making this funding available and look forward to our continued collaboration to make Massachusetts more affordable.”
“75 percent of our public higher education graduates stay in Massachusetts – like I did after my time at Salem State. They are our future educators, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and maybe even our future Lieutenant Governor,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “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 staying here to work, raise their families and build their futures. 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.”
Not including room and board, MASSGrant Plus Expansion will cover the full cost of tuition and fees for Pell Grant-eligible students, including, for the first time, the federal government determined expected family contribution (EFC) and an additional allowance of up to $1,200 for books and supplies. Middle income students – defined as those whose families earn between $73,000 and $100,000 annually in adjusted gross income -- will have their costs for tuition and mandatory instructional fees reduced by up to half of their out-of-pocket expenses. While middle-income students must be enrolled full time to qualify, the expansion will extend MASSGrant Plus financial aid to both full- and part-time Pell Grant-eligible students for the first time.
“I’m thrilled that we’re able to deliver such a big investment and increase aid for nearly 25,000 public higher education students. By expanding access to higher learning, we’re able to connect even more students with the life changing opportunities, high quality educational experiences, and work-based training and skills development that our community colleges, state universities, and UMass offer,” said Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler.
“Massachusetts should be the number one state in the country when it comes to upward socioeconomic mobility, and college access is the way to get there,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Noe Ortega. “Any resident seeking an education and career that will bring them higher earnings and improved livelihood deserves our full support on that journey.”
"The Board of Higher Education identified the need for a new strategy on higher education financing, and in 2022 we created and unanimously approved a new framework,” said Board of Higher Education Chair Chris Gabrieli. “The framework’s top priority was to expand state financial aid and make college truly affordable for our lowest income students and less debt burdensome for our moderate-income students. We are excited and grateful that the Healey-Driscoll Administration and the Legislature have chosen to harness a meaningful portion of the Fair Share revenues to this priority, and we are dedicated to working closely with all our campuses to deliver on this new commitment to students."
“Public higher education opens doors to transformational opportunities,” said Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton). “It's absolutely thrilling to see state investment put to work so beautifully on behalf of our students through the MassGrant Plus Expansion program. Kudos to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for this tenacious work and thank you to Senate President Karen Spilka for leading the Senate's enduring commitment to breaking down financial barriers to higher education. I am tremendously excited to see how this expanded student assistance will catapult students, and our Commonwealth, forward.”
The program will be retroactive to the start of the fall 2023 semester for currently enrolled students. Students who have already completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2023-2024 academic year will not need to take any further action to benefit from the additional financial aid dollars. Funds for the current semester will be credited to their accounts. Students who may qualify but have not filled out the FAFSA should do so immediately.
“MASSGrant Plus Expansion by the Healey-Driscoll Administration is a game changer for state university students. It is simply historic. I know at Salem State University, 40% of our students are Pell Eligible and hundreds of our students are considered as being from middle income families. This unprecedented investment will allow more of the Commonwealth’s students to pursue their dreams of a college education. It’s a win for them and a win for the future Massachusetts’ workforce,” said John D. Keenan, president of Salem State University and chair of the State Universities Council of Presidents. "The Commonwealth’s state universities are incredibly grateful to this Administration for their unwavering leadership in making public higher education more affordable and accessible for all!”
“The Healey-Driscoll administration’s bold expansion of financial aid will open the doors of a world-class UMass education to students across the state and lower the cost for current UMass students,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “This will accelerate the upward economic mobility of our students, about one-third of whom receive Pell Grants now, and strengthen the Commonwealth’s investment in its talent pipeline, which is critical to sustaining our competitive edge.”
“The 15 community colleges are excited by the opportunities the MASSGrant Plus Expansion will offer to our students,” said James Vander Hooven, president of Mount Wachusett Community College and chair of the Community College Council of Presidents. “We are grateful to the Governor, Lt. Governor Driscoll, and the entire administration for the continued investments in our students.”
MASSGrant Plus Expansion will invest approximately $61.7 million of additional state dollars into public higher education students. The funding for the MASSGrant Plus Expansion will draw on the $84 million delivered for financial aid expansion by Governor Healey and the legislature in the FY24 budget. Remaining funds will be used to support ongoing financial aid policies and to implement Massachusetts’ new tuition equity law, which allows qualifying non-U.S. citizens, namely undocumented students, who have completed high school in Massachusetts to access state financial aid.
This financial aid expansion announcement builds on the Healey-Driscoll administration’s significant investment in higher education earlier this fall, including a $20 million investment in MassReconnect, which made community college free for Commonwealth residents ages 25 and older regardless of income.
“We applaud the Legislature and the Healey Administration for this momentous investment in young people that uses dollars from the Fair Share Amendment and is rightly focused on low- and middle-income students and their families,” said Beth Kontos, president of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts. “The expansion of the MASSGrant Plus program will open the doors of Massachusetts public colleges and universities to thousands of deserving students, bettering their lives and strengthening our Commonwealth for the good of all residents.”
“As the president of the union that fought for and won more funding for our public schools through passage of the Fair Share Amendment, I applaud Governor Healey for rolling out the MassGrant Plus Expansion program. This is a major step forward in the fight for educational equity, making it possible for more low-and middle-income students than ever before to seek out, and complete, their higher education degrees right here in the Bay State, which will benefit our economy by keeping our talented young people in Massachusetts. With the overturning of federal affirmative action last June, I’m glad to see our governor taking steps toward achieving debt-free public higher education for all,” said Max Page, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.
“This new form of legislation is going to work wonders for students who need the financial assistance. After being told about the student aid program I have hopes that paying for school and getting through my degree will be much simpler,” said Kiana Alexis, a student at Salem State University. “As an independent student who is in their senior year of college, goes to class full time and works to just make ends meet; I have always struggled to have my aid meet my needs. When it comes time to paying for essentials like medicine and groceries and having to pay for course materials out of pocket such as textbooks and access codes, and other varying project materials not covered by the bookstore advance, it begins to add up; especially when federal assistance such as FAFSA, and various aids such as TRIO Support Services on campus, loans and grants can only do so much before other students and I are stuck paying for the rest out of pocket. Hopefully by getting to be a part of this program will take some of the weight off my shoulders of the stress of paying for school.”
“It's important to expand financial aid so that more students will be able to go to college and fully utilize their time while there not being bogged down by the financial stressors that students with limited or no financial aid face,” said Nicholas Alves, a student at Salem State University.
For more information: https://www.mass.edu/about/whatsnew_2023massgrantplusexp.asp