Tuition Free Community College Plan - Helping more Boston residents afford college
In March 2023, 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 community college for Boston residents. Funding for this investment comprises $3 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and $1 million from the Community Project Funding secured by U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. Through the expansion, all Boston residents were eligible to receive TFCC funding, regardless of their age, income, or immigration status. The funding covered tuition for students enrolled in an associate’s degree or eligible short-term certificate program at one of six partner schools: Franklin Cummings Tech, Bunker Hill Community College, Massasoit Community College, MassBay Community College, Roxbury Community College, and Urban College of Boston.
To spread the word about the expansion, TFCC held monthly online office hours to answer student questions, participated in over 60 info sessions and career fairs in the Boston area, and collaborated with Boston Public Schools (BPS), SuccessBoston, and NewSkills Boston. As a result of these efforts, the expanded program served 869 students in the 2023-2024 school year alone, a stark comparison to the total 1,044 students served in the program’s first seven years (2016-2022). Seventy-one percent of the students were pell-eligible, 29% were pell-ineligible, 92% pursued an associate's degree and 8% pursued short-term certificates.
“I am the first in my family to attend college,” said Karl Freidrick Alvarez, a student at Bunker Hill Community College. “As a black immigrant from Haiti, this [funding] has provided me with an invaluable opportunity to further my education, pursue my dreams and set a powerful example about the value of education for my daughter. [TFCC] represents hope and the promise of a better life - not just for me, but for other immigrants who strive for success through education. Your generosity will have a ripple effect for generations to come.”
The expanded TFCC program has proven its feasibility and impact, and provided a model for the State’s MassReconnect plan. In an historic move, the State passed critical financial aid programs to provide more students with access to pursue and persist in their postsecondary education, including Tuition Equity, MassReconnect, and the expanded MassGrant. On March 1, 2023, Governor Maura Healey included $20 million in her proposed FY24 budget for MassReconnect. The budget, inclusive of the $20 million and other investments in public education, was signed by the Governor on August 9, 2023. The Tuition Equity Bill signed into law as part of the FY24 budget provides in-state tuition fees for undocumented students. Moving forward, the City’s Tuition Free Community College Plan hopes to work in tandem with state financial aid programs to continue supporting Boston residents in their postsecondary journeys.