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Mayor Wu to expand Boston's tuition free community college program

Christian Fernsby |
Mayor Michelle Wu and the Worker Empowerment Cabinet announced a $4 million investment to expand the Tuition-Free Community College (TFCC) Plan, a city initiative that pays for up to three years of college for Boston’s income-eligible students.

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The expanded plan will cover costs for all residents – regardless of their year of graduation, income, or immigration status – enrolled in an associate degree program or a short-term certificate program at one of six partner colleges.

Mayor Wu made this announcement today at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt), a new institution that has launched a pilot program in partnership with the City of Boston.

"Expanding Boston's Tuition Free Community College is a critical step in ensuring more of our city's residents are eligible to pursue a higher education right here in the City. This funding will increase community college enrollment, and connect more residents with quality jobs," said Mayor Michelle Wu.

"I want to thank Congresswoman Pressley for her leadership and all of our partner institutions for their critical work ensuring that we are closing gaps and expanding access to education for all.”

Managed by the Office of Workforce Development (OWD), a department within the Worker Empowerment Cabinet, the Tuition-Free Community College (TFCC) Plan covers the balance owed after financial aid and other funding has been applied and provides students with a stipend at six partner community colleges: Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology, Bunker Hill Community College, Massasoit Community College, MassBay Community College, Roxbury Community College, and Urban College of Boston. TFCC will continue providing selected students with a $250 stipend per semester for up to three years.

This $4 million investment is funded by $3 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and an additional $1 million investment is made possible through the Community Project Funding secured by U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley last year.

With this new investment, TFCC will now start paying off up to $2,500 of debt for students with an outstanding balance at a partner college if the balance prevents them from re-enrolling.

This expansion aims to address the pandemic’s impact on community college enrollment, completion rates, and eliminate barriers to re-enrollment for aspiring students.

Since 2016, the program has served over 1,000 students. With these investments, TFCC’s eligibility requirements will now include all Boston residents, including older adults and undocumented immigrants.

The City of Boston will be partnering with an immigrant-serving organization to provide support directly to undocumented students seeking to take advantage of the program.

In an effort to meet the growing demand for industry-recognized certification, TFCC will now cover costs for any short-term certificate programs at its partner colleges that lead to an industry recognized credential.

Certifications offer a pathway to in-demand, quality employment but are often not covered by federal financial aid. With the addition of short term certifications, students have the opportunity to receive credentials in industries such as healthcare, renewable energy, and information technology in as little as six months.

The City has also launched a pilot program in partnership with the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt).

The program will cover tuition, fees, and mandatory supplies for PELL-eligible students transferring from a partner community college to a bachelor's degree program at MassArt.

The college will also provide wrap-around services and coaching for students through their existing transfer support program.

The MassArt pilot program is open to students who meet the transfer admissions and TFCC eligibility requirements. This partnership aims to make the completion of a bachelor's degree more accessible and affordable for low to moderate income students.

There is no longer a separate application required for the Tuition Free Community College (TFCC) Plan. Students simply need to apply and be admitted to their desired program, and the partner colleges will identify Boston residents and apply the funds as a part of their financial aid process.

This approach streamlines the implementation of the funds by eliminating administrative barriers.

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