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Press Release  Healey-Driscoll Administration Celebrates New Scholarship Program that Covers Tuition for Community College Nursing Students

Scholarship Funded by FY24 Budget Celebrated as Part of STEM Week
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Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration Celebrates New Scholarship Program that Covers Tuition for Community College Nursing Students

Delaney Corcoran, Communications Director, Executive Office of Education

HOLYOKE — Today, on the second day of Mass STEM Week, the Healey-Driscoll Administration celebrated this year’s new nursing community college financial aid scholarship, announcing that for the first time, the funds are sufficient to cover 100 percent of currently enrolled community college nursing students for the year.

Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler made the announcement today at Holyoke Community College’s Center for Health Education & Simulation, joined by Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Lauren Jones, Commissioner of Public Health Robbie Goldstein, Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton), Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, Senator Adam Gomez (D-Springfield), Representative Patricia Duffy (D-Holyoke), Holyoke Mayor Joshua A. Garcia, Holyoke Community College President Dr. George Timmons, and the administration’s Western Mass Director Kristen Elechko. During the event, the Healey-Driscoll Administration highlighted nursing student scholarship recipients attending Holyoke Community College, celebrating the impact the investment is expected to have for nursing students across the state.    

“As the daughter of a school nurse, I know how important it is to have experienced workers in the health care industry. I’m grateful to Senate President Spilka and the Legislature for prioritizing this lifechanging initiative,” said Governor Maura Healey. “This scholarship for community college nursing students will bolster the nursing pipeline to meet the needs of medical facilities and patients across Massachusetts, which were exacerbated by the pandemic. Like our MassReconnect program which delivers free community college for residents 25 years and older who have not yet completed a degree, this financial aid scholarship for nursing students will also serve as a catalyst for progress in breaking cycles of intergenerational poverty, helping residents complete their higher education credentials so they can attain meaningful careers.”  

“The health care industry is a vital STEM sector in Massachusetts and I am thrilled that, as part of our 2023 STEM Week, we could highlight this incredible scholarship and the impact it will have on students who pursue a future in nursing at one of Massachusetts 15 incredible community colleges,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “As one of the most rapidly growing STEM occupations, it is vital that we open pathways for more people to pursue nursing as a career.” 

As part of the FY24 budget, Governor Healey, Lt. Governor Driscoll, and the Massachusetts State Legislature are delivering $18 million in funds for nursing students at community college. The new scholarship program is designed to attract, incentivize, and encourage a pipeline of skilled nurses in Massachusetts. This year, of the approximately 3,000 nursing and pre-nursing students currently enrolled in one of Massachusetts’ 15 community colleges, all 3,000 are attending at no-cost of their own. The funds for the new nursing financial aid program were sufficient to cover the cost of the estimated 1,500 nursing and pre-nursing students currently enrolled in one of Massachusetts’ 15 community colleges. Another 1,500 community college nursing students had their entire cost of attendance funded by other state and federal resources. 

“I’m proud to celebrate STEM education every year, and this year am all the prouder, now that our budget investments are taking effect and nursing programs are free for community college students everywhere in Massachusetts,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “It brings me so much joy today to see us harness the talent of so many young people, empower them to change their lives for the better, provide new ways to participate in our economy, and expand the healthcare workforce pipeline that we so desperately need.”

"I’m proud of the House’s historic level of support for increases in scholarship funding for Massachusetts' college students in this year's budget, including for the Commonwealth’s nursing students,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “This highlights the House's commitment to ensuring equity in STEM education by making college more affordable, while also addressing workforce shortages that have disrupted our healthcare system.”  

“I am delighted to see this worthy educational initiative be so quickly integrated into our higher education community college system. We all know that health care workers are in such high demand, but there’s even a higher premium for skilled nurses. With this free tuition subsidy, we can continue to grow our health care workforce to meet the labor demands to come,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means

“The labor market blueprint for the Connecticut River valley shows a supply gap of well over a thousand nurses in order to meet demand. Our residents deserve the ability to age in our communities, receiving the care they need,” said Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education. “Investing to make nurse training programs at community colleges tuition free unlocks huge growth for our region, helping us to meet the demand for nurses while strengthening community colleges, the care constituents receive, and our regional economy. I am thankful that the Legislature and the Healey-Driscoll Administration share the same vision for our community colleges — seeing them for the workforce and equity engines that they are.” 

"Our state faces a significant healthcare workforce shortage. Thanks to the leadership of Speaker Mariano and House Ways and Means Chair Michlewitz, the FY24 budget invests a remarkable $18 million dedicated to nurturing the dreams of our aspiring nursing students within the community college system. This investment covers 100% of this academic year’s costs for these students. I commend the Healey-Driscoll Administration for its unwavering support for higher education and their visionary investments in healthcare and STEM fields,” said Representative Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education

“The historic FY24 funding for nursing students at community colleges is a critical step towards building our healthcare workforce and expanding access to care across the Commonwealth. This STEM week I am grateful to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for their leadership and am thrilled that nursing students at HCC, and at community colleges across the state, will be benefitting from this transformative program,” said Senator John Velis (D-Westfield)

"I am proud of this response to the needs of our healthcare workforce and Holyoke Community College's role. This campus is a gateway to opportunities and meaningful careers for our region and supporting that is one of my top priorities,” said Representative Patricia Duffy (D-Holyoke)

The new nursing financial aid scholarship is one investment within Governor Healey, Lt. Governor Driscoll, and the legislature’s historic commitment to higher education in the FY24 budget. The budget included $330 million total in student financial aid to allow Massachusetts residents to more easily access their higher education at a cost they can afford, including $84 million to MassGrant Plus. The Healey-Driscoll administration also launched MassReconnect, a brand-new program allowing Massachusetts residents 25 and older to earn their community college degree for free, regardless of area of study.  The budget also accomplished tuition equity this year, allowing all Massachusetts high school students, regardless of immigration documentation status, to qualify for in-state tuition and financial aid. 

“I am so thrilled to be able to announce that every single one of our currently enrolled community college nursing students will be able to attend for free this year. By creating more opportunities for equitable access to STEM fields, we can grow the workforce of tomorrow at a rate that meets the needs of Massachusetts residents,” said Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler. “Our strategy for improving access to higher education is intimately linked with our goal of delivering the next generation of STEM leaders in the Commonwealth.” 
Growing the health care workforce has also been a priority of the Healey-Driscoll administration. As part of this effort, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services awarded $140.9M in student loan repayment to 2,935 primary care and behavioral health providers as part of the effort to strengthen health service workforces impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges. The next round of applications are currently open and are geared towards Department of Mental Health providers and continuous skilled nurses for MassHealth, who provide critical care to some of those who need it most. Earlier this month, the Administration also announced a tax credit for student loan repayment assistance.  

“Massachusetts is home to some of the finest health care in the world, and keeping our system strong requires investing in a skilled and dedicated workforce,” said Robbie Goldstein, MD, PhD, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. “In the past few years, we have experienced critical shortages in some crucial roles, specifically nurses and behavioral health providers. We must rebuild our workforce to the levels we need. An investment in our health care workforce would not only enable us to preserve the kind of exceptional care we have known and trusted, but it also would be an investment in the health, well-being, and resilience of our communities.” 

The health care workforce is a critical part of the Commonwealth’s STEM Economy. More than 40 percent of Massachusetts’s economy centers on jobs in STEM fields, including health care, advanced manufacturing, information technology, biotechnology, and clean energy. According to the Massachusetts Department of Economic Research, Nurse Practitioners as an occupation is expected to be the third STEM occupation with the highest growth from 2020 to 2030. Increasing access to higher education is critical to meet employer needs for skilled workers in these high demand industries and inspiring people to pursue meaningful careers. 

 “This scholarship program will unlock tremendous opportunities for our rising talent – future nurses we need here in Massachusetts,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Lauren E. Jones, who chairs the Workforce Skills Cabinet. “As we invest in our talent, we must also breakdown barriers that may limit residents from achieving their full potential. The Administration’s Workforce Skills Cabinet appreciates the opportunity to leverage this incredible tool that will pave more pathways needed as we strengthen the state’s healthcare industry and workforce.”

For program information contact:

Clantha McCurdy
Senior Deputy Commissioner
Access and Student Financial Assistance
(617) 391-6098


Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration Celebrates New Scholarship Program that Covers Tuition for Community College Nursing Students

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