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Healey-Driscoll Administration Announces Historic Financial Aid Expansion for Massachusetts Public College and University Students

Submitted by on November 16, 2023 – 3:25 pm

Salem, MA (November 15, 2023) – A historic expansion of financial aid will benefit approximately 25,000 students attending the state’s public colleges and universities. On Wednesday, Governor Maura Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll announced the MASSGrant Plus Expansion program with nearly $62 million in new program funding.

“For so many Massachusetts residents, higher education can be the ticket to their future career and economic stability. Our employers are looking to graduates of Massachusetts’ exceptional public colleges to meet their workforce needs. But far too many people are held back from pursuing the education of their choice because of high costs,” said Governor Healey. “This expansion of MASSGrant Plus will open doors for more students to access higher education, which will strengthen our economy as a whole.”

Governor Healey announces MASSGrant Expansion program at Salem State University.
Photo credit: Joshua Qualls/Governor’s Press Office

Not including room and board, MASSGrant Plus Expansion will cover the total cost of tuition and fees for Pell Grant-eligible students, including, for the first time, the federal government-determined expected family contribution (EFC) and an additional allowance of up to $1,200 for books and supplies.

Middle-income students – defined as those whose families earn between $73,000 and $100,000 annually in adjusted gross income — will have their costs for tuition and mandatory instructional fees reduced by up to half of their out-of-pocket expenses. While middle-income students must be enrolled full-time to qualify, the expansion will extend MASSGrant Plus financial aid to both full- and part-time Pell Grant-eligible students for the first time.

This change could benefit as many as 2,000 students currently enrolled at Northern Essex.

“Making higher education more affordable and accessible is a win for all of us in Massachusetts. The state’s public college students are more likely to live and work in the state following graduation. This investment will pay dividends in educating and retaining the talent needed for a healthy state economy,” says Northern Essex President Lane Glenn.

The program will be retroactive to the start of the fall 2023 semester for currently enrolled students. Students who have already completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2023-2024 academic year will not need to take any further action to benefit from the additional financial aid dollars. Funds for the current semester will be credited to their accounts. Students who may qualify but have not filled out the FAFSA should do so immediately and contact the college’s financial aid department.

Funding for the MASSGrant Plus Expansion program came from revenue from the Fair Share Amendment, passed by voters in 2022. It is an additional tax on households with very high annual incomes. The remaining funds will be used to support ongoing financial aid policies and to implement Massachusetts’ new tuition equity law, which allows qualifying non-U.S. citizens, namely undocumented students, who have completed high school in Massachusetts to access state financial aid.

This financial aid expansion announcement builds on the Healey-Driscoll administration’s significant investment in higher education earlier this fall, including a $20 million investment in MassReconnect, which made community college free for Commonwealth residents ages 25 and older regardless of income. Since its implementation, Northern Essex has distributed MassReconnect awards to more than 200 students.