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Andover High Grad is one of First NECC Students to Take Advantage of State’s New Affordable Transfer Option

Submitted by on December 18, 2017 – 4:31 pm

Shannon Williams of Andover is one of the first NECC students to sign up for the Commonwealth Commitment, which provides new financial incentives for students who start at a community college and transfer to a state college or university.

Shannon Williams, a 2016 graduate of Andover High School, is very pleased about her plan to earn an associate degree from Northern Essex Community College and then transfer to UMass Lowell.  As a participant in the state’s Commonwealth Commitment Program, she’ll earn her bachelor’s degree for under $35,000, maybe less, if she applies for and receives scholarships.

Affordability was important to Williams when she was choosing a college.  Her father died very unexpectedly a month before her high school graduation and her mother had limited funding to help support her daughter’s college education.

“I was going to go to UMass Lowell, but it was too expensive,” says Shannon.  My older sister came to Northern Essex and then transferred to Merrimack College and my cousin graduated from here; so I decided to start here, too.”

Williams arrived at Northern Essex in the fall of 2016 with clear academic and career goals.  She plans to earn an associate degree in psychology from Northern Essex in 2018, a bachelor’s in psychology from UMass Lowell in 2020, and eventually a master’s in counseling, possibly from Merrimack College.  Her goal is to be a therapist, helping people to overcome mental illnesses like depression.  “I love helping people,” she says.

When meeting with her academic advisor, Grace Young, Williams learned that her psychology major qualified for the Commonwealth Commitment, a statewide program designed to help students who transfer from a community college to a state college or university save money on their degree.

The Commonwealth Commitment is open to full-time students who complete an associate’s degree within two-and-a-half years and a bachelor’s degree within two years and maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the program.

These students receive cost savings including a freeze on tuition and mandatory fees for all four years and a 10% rebate at the successful completion of each semester.  In addition, they receive a MassTransfer tuition credit once they enroll in the bachelor’s degree program.

“I loved the idea of being locked into one price,” she says.  “I won’t have to pay more, more, more.”

Williams, who will be inducted into the national honors and leadership society on Friday evening, likes it at Northern Essex.  “I love it here.  I like how small the classes are.  Teachers know my name and I can ask them questions.”

The Commonwealth Commitment covers sixteen programs from biology to business to computer science and community college graduates can transfer to any of Massachusetts’ state universities or UMass campuses including Mass Maritime Academy and Mass College of Art.

To learn more, contact Grace Young, dean of academic support services, articulation, and transfer, or 978 556-3449.