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Mayor Walsh launches tuition-free community college for BPS graduates

The program will be available at all Boston Public Schools high schools beginning June 1.

BOSTON - Friday, April 29, 2016 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the City of Boston will roll out a tuition-free community college plan for Boston Public Schools (BPS), providing a cost-effective entry point into higher education for Boston's young people.  

The program will be available at all BPS high schools beginning June 1, and will run through the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (OWD), with support from the City's Neighborhood Jobs Trust (NJT).

"The single most effective way to break down the social and financial barriers facing many Boston families is to make post-secondary education free and accessible," said Mayor Walsh. "I am so proud to launch this program and give our talented BPS graduates another resource for success."

The Neighborhood Jobs Trust, which collects linkage fees from large-scale commercial developments in the city, will fund the program.

The program has already launched at Madison Park Vocational-Technical High School.

"This enormously helpful initiative is breaking barriers by increasing access to quality higher education for our students," said BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang. "This is an example of a wonderful partnership that truly provides a path to help students succeed in college, career, and life."

The Boston Foundation report "Getting Closer to the Finish Line: The College Enrollment and Experiences of Graduates of the Boston Public Schools" suggests that Boston students are in need of support to succeed in community college. While only 15% of those 2007 BPS graduates attending two-year colleges managed to graduate, with 40% of enrollees dropping out after the first year, the report found that students with grant assistance were far more likely to stay enrolled through the first two years of college.  

A recent study by the Boston Redevelopment Authority confirmed that there is a strong correlation between education attainment and wages. An associate's degree holder is 1.7 times more likely to make $35,000 or more compared to someone with only a high school degree. A bachelor's degree holder is 2.2 times as likely to make $35,000 or more compared to someone with only a high school degree.

While the Tuition Free Plan will help address the barriers to cost, the City recognizes that a more comprehensive phase is needed for the long-term, in order to prepare graduates for the challenges of higher education and beyond. This initiative will also work with BPS guidance counselors, high school staff, community partners and resident groups to encourage maximum participation from BPS graduates and their families. Starting late Fall of 2016, subsequent phases of the plan will deploy an integrated model of support services, bridge programs, dual enrollments, remedial classes, and resources for connecting students with employment opportunities, career navigation services, and financial aid for completing post-secondary education.

To be eligible, students must graduate from a BPS high school with at least a 2.2 GPA, be able to complete community college on a two-year schedule, meet low-income status for Pell Grants, complete the FASFA, pass the accuplacer to place out of developmental classes, and gain admission to either Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) or Roxbury Community College (RCC).

"Education is an essential part of preparing a competitive workforce for the City of Boston," said Trinh Nguyen, Director of the OWD. "Leveraging our community colleges, partners, and federal resources will help students, parents, and families obtain their career aspirations. College shouldn't be limited to those who can afford it."

The Office of Workforce Development is an affiliate of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. 

About the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development

The Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (OWD) is an innovative agency within the Boston Redevelopment Authority that seeks to ensure the full participation of all Boston residents in the city's economic vitality and future. The OWD funds and oversees programs that promote workforce development through education, jobs training, apprenticeships, financial coaching, career pathways, literacy initiatives, and the like. Please visit their site to learn more about the OWD's work.

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