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Governor Baker, Higher Ed Leaders Announce Plan to Increase College Affordability

Submitted by on April 20, 2016 – 9:32 pm

Commonwealth Commitment FacebookGovernor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito joined public higher education leaders on Thursday, April 21 to announce the Commonwealth Commitment, an innovative college affordability and completion plan to help more students achieve the dream of a college degree.

The Commonwealth Commitment, the first agreement of its kind in the nation, was signed by University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan, Worcester State University President Barry Maloney and Middlesex Community College President James Mabry, representing the three segments of the public higher education system, at a ceremony held at Middlesex Community College. The plan commits every public campus to providing 10* rebates at the end of each successfully completed semester to qualifying undergraduate students, in addition to the standard MassTransfer tuition waiver received upon entering a four-year institution from a Community College. Students who meet the program requirements will, depending on the transfer pathway they choose, be able to realize an average savings of $5,090 off the cost of a baccalaureate degree.

Also, as part of the Commonwealth Commitment’s goal to increase cost savings and predictability, tuition and mandatory fees will be frozen for program participants as of the date they enter the program.

Students will begin their studies at one of the state’s 15 community colleges, enrolling in one of 24 Commonwealth Commitment/Mass Transfer Pathways programs that will roll out in fall 2016 (14 programs) and fall 2017 (10 additional programs). They must attend full-time, and must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0. After earning an associate’s degree in two and a half years or less, students will transfer to a state university or UMass campus to earn a baccalaureate degree.

“I am pleased that our higher education leaders have worked collaboratively to create this program to decrease the cost of a college degree and accelerate on-time completion,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Even though public higher education in Massachusetts is already a great value, the Commonwealth Commitment will make it even easier for students to go to school full-time and to enter the workforce faster and with less debt.”

“We know that extra support can make the difference for our students, many of whom attend part-time while balancing jobs, families, and transportation challenges with their classes.  Thanks to the Commonwealth Commitment, more lower and middle class families will be able to afford college, and attend full-time.  They can use their 10 percent savings where they need it, for tuition, books, transportation, or child care.  By worrying less about money, they will be more likely to succeed in college,” said Lane Glenn, president of Northern Essex Community College.

At the end of every successfully completed semester, students will earn a 10* rebate on tuition and fees, payable in the form of a check, or may opt to receive a voucher to use for books or other education-related expenses. The program does not discount room and board, although students may choose to use their Commonwealth Commitment savings or other resources to offset some of those costs. Students’ rebates or vouchers will be calculated based on the total cost of tuition and mandatory fees at the institutions they choose to attend. Additionally, students who enroll in free or reduced cost dual enrollment programs, taking college courses while still in high school, may be able to apply the credits they earn toward their Commonwealth Commitment degrees, thus reducing costs even further.

Further information is available at

To learn more about transfer opportunities at Northern Essex Community College, contact Enrollment Services, 978 556-3700 or