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Report Shows MassReconnect Program Drove 45% Enrollment Increase in New Students Aged 25 and Older   

Submitted by on July 9, 2024 – 11:57 am

BOSTON – The Healey-Driscoll Administration is highlighting the impact of MassReconnect as the first academic year with this program wraps up, having supported over 4,500 students. Launched in August 2023, Governor Healey’s free community college program for students 25 and over without prior degrees has made Massachusetts’ 15 community colleges tuition and fee free for thousands of students, and inspired thousands more to enroll since the program’s start.

A total of 8,411 students ages 25 and older enrolled in community college in the first year of MassReconnect, which was nearly a 45 percent increase from the previous year. These new students drove an eight percent overall enrollment growth across Massachusetts community colleges, reversing a decade of declines.

For the 2023-2024 academic year, more than 4,500 students received MassReconnect grant awards.

pedro is wearing a blue suit smiling at the camera

NECC Business Transfer and MassReconnect student Pedro Rentas is featured on the DHE website.

Students receive support from MassReconnect after all other forms of federal and state financial aid are applied. This means the MassReconnect messaging and outreach helped support many students toward pursuing higher education who may have not otherwise, connecting them with other federal and state financial aid programs, such as the federal Pell Grant.

“We’re thrilled that the first year of MassReconnect has been successful in attracting thousands more students aged 25 and older to our incredible community colleges. This is a ticket to economic mobility, providing students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today’s economy and meet the needs of our employers,” said Governor Maura Healey. “We’re grateful to the hardworking educators and staff who made this possible and to the Legislature for their partnership in creating this important program.”

“Congratulations to the thousands of students who took the important step of enrolling in community college this year. It is so exciting to see MassReconnect expanding the possibilities for older students across Massachusetts,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “We encourage anyone who might be eligible to explore their options for next school year and set themselves up for a brighter future.”

The ability of MassReconnect to connect students with other forms of financial aid can also be seen in the FAFSA completion data. Of students 25 and over who met MassReconnect requirements, 86 percent completed the FAFSA in fall 2023, a seven percentage point increase from the prior year. FAFSA completion is required to qualify for MassReconnect.

“These MassReconnect numbers show that when we are intentional about spreading the word far and wide that financial aid is available, students will make use of that aid. We are building on this work as we partner with schools and non-profits to increase FAFSA completion so more students can continue to take advantage of the historic state aid available next academic year,” said Education Secretary Dr. Patrick Tutwiler.

The Department of Higher Education’s (DHE) recent legislative report found that the 8,411 new community college students ages 25 and over included 1,667 new students who identified as Black or African American and 1,966 new students who identified as Hispanic or Latino, representing significant enrollment growth over the prior year and demonstrating that MassReconnect is attracting students from across racial subgroups.

“The number of students who benefitted from MassReconnect in a short time is remarkable and demonstrates the strength of the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s vision for building a stronger Commonwealth,” said Higher Education Commissioner Noe Ortega. “Massachusetts has an opportunity to lead the nation in upward mobility through higher education, and new programs like MassReconnect and MASSGrant Plus Expansion lay the crucial groundwork for getting there.”

Governor Healey’s proposed fiscal year 2025 budget included $24 million in funding for MassReconnect, a 20 percent increase from the prior budget. The Department of Higher Education will continue to measure MassReconnect’s success, including enrollment, graduation and transfer rates.

The DHE is featuring students on its website who have benefited from MassReconnect. Those students include NECC Business Transfer student Pedro Rentas. Learn about how MassReconnect supported students’ educational and career goals by visiting the site.

Adapted from a press release provided by the Office of Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll. View the full release here.