Tuition Equity Bill Included in State Budget, Allows Undocumented Students to Receive In-State Tuition
Boston, MA (July 31, 2023) – The newly-signed Massachusetts state budget, includes programs that will dramatically increase access to higher education for Bay State residents. Northern Essex Community College President Lane Glenn was at the forefront of advocating for the initiatives, including the Tuition Equity Bill. It expands in-state tuition and financial aid eligibility to undocumented Massachusetts students who attend public colleges or universities in the Commonwealth.
“I am grateful to the legislature, and particularly Senate President Spilka, for including Tuition Equity for undocumented students in the FY24 budget proposal,” says President Glenn. “This important step will immediately benefit thousands of students across the Commonwealth, make Massachusetts more economically competitive with other states, and better prepare the workforce we need in the years ahead.”
In a recent article, President Glenn points out that this bill underscores the importance of educating and retaining talent for a healthy state economy.
Massachusetts public college students are more likely (85%) to live and work in the state following graduation. Nearly a third of STEM workers, and a significant number of healthcare workers and educated workers in other industries, are first-generation immigrants.
The bill amends wording to the General Laws to allow in-state tuition and fees to undocumented students who have attended high school in Massachusetts for at least three years and either graduated from a high school in the state or attained the equivalent.
The budget also includes funding for the following key higher education programs:
$20 million, MassReconnect
MassReconnect provides Massachusetts residents who are 25 years old and older with access to free associate degrees and certificates at the state’s community colleges. Those adults who have not yet earned a college degree or industry credential are eligible. It offers students last-dollar financial support to cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and supplies. The program will begin in the fall of 2023. Learn more about MassReconnect at NECC here.
$18 million, Scholarships for Community College Nursing Programs
This funding supports scholarships for community college nursing students and provides additional financial support to the colleges to recruit and retain qualified nursing professionals to teach in nursing programs.
$12 million, Free Community College for All
The state has begun the process of providing free community college by the fall of 2024. This funding allows institutions to begin building capacity for such a program, including staffing and system upgrades. It also allows for the analysis and development of comprehensive free community college guidelines, regulations, and implementation measures.
$14 million, SUCCESS Programs
The state’s 15 community colleges will each receive funding to continue their SUCCESS Programs. The SUCCESS Fund (Supporting Urgent Community College Equity through Student Services) is based on Northern Essex’s PACE Program, a federally funded program that serves first-generation and low-income students each year with individualized support services.
At Northern Essex, this funding was used to create the SOAR Program. The SOAR (Seizing Opportunities, Aspire to Rise) Program provides hundreds of students with wrap-around services such as peer mentoring, tutoring, academic skills workshops, and transfer advising.
$27 million, Early College and Dual Enrollment Programs
The state’s public colleges and universities will receive continued funding for Early College and Dual Enrollment programs. NECC is one of 22 colleges and universities participating in the Massachusetts Early College Initiative, which partners high schools with colleges and universities for designated programs between them. NECC has designated programs with Haverhill High School, Lawrence High School, and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School. Students from those schools can earn college credits tuition-free. In addition to its state-designated partnerships, Northern Essex offers its Early College Program to students from 25 other local high schools. These students can earn credits at a 50% discount. Learn more about Dual Enrollment and Early College at Northern Essex by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
$25 million, Community College Scholarships in High-Demand Fields
This funding supports students who are enrolled in high-demand career fields, as defined by the executive office of labor and workforce development’s study on labor market conditions. Scholarships from this fund will be available to students enrolled in and pursuing either an associate degree or certificate program at a state college; are age 25 or older as of the first day of classes; have not previously earned a college degree; and are enrolled in at least six credits.