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State Launches Commonwealth Commitment, Now More Affordable to Start at Northern Essex and Transfer

Submitted by on September 19, 2016 – 3:00 pm

Commonwealth Commitment FacebookMassachusetts just unveiled a new program that will make it even more affordable to earn a bachelor’s degree by starting at a community college, like Northern Essex Community College, and then transferring to a four-year public college, state university or the University of Massachusetts.

The Commonwealth Commitment provides a freeze on all tuition and mandatory fees on program entry and a rebate off tuition and mandatory fees at the end of every successfully completed semester for students who earn an associate degree and then transfer for a bachelor’s degree.  As a result, students can save an average of 40% on the cost of a bachelor’s degree.

This fall, the program is open to Northern Essex Community College students who are interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, economics, and psychology, and want to transfer to any Massachusetts public college, state university, or University of Massachusetts, including Massachusetts College of Art and Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Next fall, the options will expand to include business, communications & media studies, computer science, criminal justice, early childhood education, English, liberal arts, sociology, and STEM natural/physical sciences.

To be eligible for the program, students must attend college full time and earn their associate degree within two and a half years and their bachelor’s degree within two more years.  They also must maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the program.

“This is a great opportunity for middle class families who are looking for the most affordable path to a bachelor’s degree,” said Tina Favara, Northern Essex’s dean of enrollment services and interim dean of student activities.

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education recently launched a Commonwealth Commitment website which shows student pathways and costs.

According to the website, a student who signed up for the Commonwealth Commitment this fall, and transferred to UMass Lowell after earning an associate degree from Northern Essex, would have a final cost of $34,171 for their bachelor’s degree including all tuition and fees.

The savings are the result of a freeze on tuition and mandatory fees for all four years that takes effect when you sign up for the program; a 10% rebate off tuition and mandatory fees at the end of every successfully completed semester; and an additional MassTransfer tuition waiver once the student enrolls in a bachelor’s program.

Students who can’t study full time can still take advantage of cost savings associated with MassTransfer Gen Ed Pathway (complete 34 credits before transferring and save an average of 11% on a bachelor’s degree) or the MassTransfer A2B Pathway (complete 60 credits before transferring and save an average of 28% on your bachelor’s degree).  For more information on all three transfer options, visit

NECC’s enrollment services and academic advising staff is meeting now with prospective students and their families to discuss Commonwealth Commitment options.  To learn more, contact Enrollment Services at 978 556-3700 or


With campuses in Haverhill and Lawrence, Northern Essex Community College offers over 70 associate degree and certificate programs as well as hundreds of noncredit courses designed for personal enrichment and career growth.  More than 7,400 students are enrolled in credit associate degree and certificate programs on the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses; and another 6,700 take noncredit workforce development and community education classes on campus, and at businesses and community sites across the Merrimack Valley.  Northern Essex is the only state college located in the lower Merrimack Valley Region of Massachusetts. For more information, visit the website at