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UMass Woos Community College Grads

A new program is aimed at making it easier for graduates of two-year community colleges to attend — and afford — the University of Massachusetts flagship Amherst campus..

Community college students with a grade point average of 3.0 or better would be guaranteed admission to UMass-Amherst with free tuition. Those with a GPA of at least 2.5 percent would also be guaranteed admission and would be eligible for financial aid and other services.

The current in-state tuition at the university is $1,714 a year.

Gov. Deval Patrick and UMass Amherst Chancellor Robert Holub unveiled the program on Wednesday at Roxbury Community College in Boston.

"Your opportunity to get a four-year degree from one of the best public universities in the country, that is a big step forward," Patrick said, "and a real statement of our confidence in you, in building a better and stronger commonwealth for all of us."

University officials say more than 500 community college graduates transfer to UMass Amherst each year and about 70 percent of them go on to receive a bachelor's degree.

Roxbury Community College President Terrence Gomes says the program is an important way to help community college students achieve success.

"What UMass is doing here and for all the community colleges is quite simple, giving us the opportunity and our students the opportunity to have great opportunity for success," Gomes said.

With reporting from The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom.

This program aired on March 23, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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