State Financial Aid Form Advances Tuition Equity in MA
Boston, MA (January 9, 2024) — Today, the Healey-Driscoll Administration took a significant step forward in expanding access to higher education for all Massachusetts residents by launching the new Massachusetts Application for State Financial Aid (MASFA). The Department of Higher Education released the form on its website today, which will allow currently enrolled undocumented college students in Massachusetts to apply for state need-based financial aid for the first time. Students can access the application at mass.edu/MASFA.
The MASFA is an alternative form that provides students who cannot complete the Free Application for State Financial Aid (FAFSA) due to their immigration status a way to apply for state need-based financial aid. The application launch follows the August 2023 passage of Massachusetts’ Tuition Equity Law, which allows students who have completed at least three years of high school in Massachusetts and received a high school diploma or its equivalent in the Commonwealth to access in-state tuition and be eligible for financial aid, regardless of immigration status.
Governor Healey and state and local leaders celebrated the passage of the law with an event on the Northern Essex Community College Lawrence Campus. NECC President Lane Glenn was a key advocate for the law’s passage, an effort that was 20 years in the making. The event featured a moving speech from NECC General Studies: Health Professions major Joan S. She came to the United States when she was ten years old and didn’t find out she was undocumented until she was 16. “It took me years [to take prerequisite classes] because I had to take one or two classes at a time. Because of my status, these classes cost three times the amount an in-state student pays for tuition,” Joan shared.
Eligible students like Joan began receiving the in-state tuition rate in Fall 2023. The MASFA released today is for additional need-based financial aid opportunities. It is based on the FAFSA for the 2023-2024 academic year and should be completed by students who are beginning college in Spring 2024 or were enrolled in the Fall 2023 semester and may qualify for financial aid. To receive financial aid for the 2023-2024 school year, students are encouraged to apply by May 1, and no later than June 30, 2024.
Students who apply for need-based state financial aid under the new “High School Completer” pathway created by the Tuition Equity Law must meet the existing eligibility criteria for each financial aid program for which they are seeking access.
“Quality higher education should be accessible to all Massachusetts high school graduates,” said Governor Healey. “Students who have long been part of our communities in Massachusetts should be eligible for the historic financial aid programs we have launched this year, and they should have every opportunity to grow their careers and be part of building our state’s workforce. We’re grateful to the Legislature for their partnership in passing this historic policy, and we’re proud to be launching this application so that students can start accessing financial aid.”
“This has been a banner year for educational access in Massachusetts, following the passage of MassReconnect, MASSGrant Plus Expansion, and Tuition Equity,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “The MASFA will open doors to need-based financial aid for students looking to attend any public or private Massachusetts college or university.”
Who is Eligible
Filling out the MASFA does not commit any student to enrolling in a college or university, but it is the essential first step to applying for the financial assistance for which they may qualify to make college a reality.
To be eligible, Massachusetts residents must meet the following criteria:
- Was admitted to a public or private institution of higher education within the Massachusetts system of public higher education.
- Have attended at least three academic years at a high school in Massachusetts. Have graduated from high school in
- Massachusetts or have received the equivalent of a high school diploma (for example, a GED) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- Have applied for military selective service, if eligible.
- If the individual is not a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States, that person must provide a completed the DHE Affidavit stating that the individual will file an application to become a citizen or legal permanent resident within 120 days after the individual becomes eligible to do so.
- An updated MASFA for the 2024-2025 academic year will be available in late winter/early spring and will be based on the 2024-2025 FAFSA, which is due to be released by the federal government on December 31, 2023.
The MASFA ensures that all students who qualify can access the significant investments made into higher education by the Healey-Driscoll administration this year, including MassReconnect, which made community college free for Commonwealth residents ages 25 and older regardless of income, and MASSGrant Plus Expansion, which covers the cost of tuition and fees for low-income students and reduces out-of-pocket costs for middle-income students.