How to sign up for free community college in Massachusetts

New graduates line up before the start of a community college commencement in East Rutherford, N.J. (Seth Wenig/AP)
New graduates line up before the start of a community college commencement. (Seth Wenig/AP)

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We’re in for another stretch of rain this week, but the Labor Day weekend forecast should at least be worth it.

To the news:

Back to school is taking on a new meaning for thousands of adults in Massachusetts this fall. Last week, Gov. Maura Healey launched the beginning of the state’s new MassReconnect program, offering to cover the costs of community college (tuition, fees, books, supplies) to residents who are 25 and up. As WBUR’s Max Larkin reported, the program is expected to start out relatively small, supporting between 6,500 and 8,000 community college students in this first year.

  • But there’s a lot of room to grow. By next academic year, officials are aiming to get closer to 10,000. And theoretically, there are over 2 million people in Massachusetts who qualify, including 700,000 who have started — but not finished — college.
  • Is MassReconnect right for you? Healey’s office says the program is open to current students, new students and returning students alike. There’s just four criteria you must meet to be eligible:
  1. You must be at least 25 years old by the first day of class.
  2. You must be a permanent Massachusetts resident for at least one year by the start of the term.
  3. You must have no previous two- or four-year college degrees.
  4. You must enroll in at least six credits per semester.
  • When can I apply? There’s no signup deadline, so you could even apply for classes this fall. Most community college programs begin next week, but officials say there are scattered start dates throughout the semester, so students can enroll at any time.
  • What do I need to do? There are two steps: First, fill out your FAFSA form. Then enroll in an approved program at one of the state’s 15 community colleges. State officials say your financial aid provider should reach out and automatically apply the perk to eligible students (both full and part time students qualify).

Move-in day today at Tufts University could be a bit messy: The university’s 150 resident advisors are planning a one-day strike today, after hitting an impasse with school officials over their benefits.

  • What the RAs want: The group has been demanding a semesterly stipend between $3,000 and $5,000. Tufts has offered to pay for the RAs’ meal plan, in addition to housing (which the school already covers). However, Joel Omalade, a first-year Tufts RA, told WBUR’s Amy Sokolow it still doesn’t recognize the amount of work they’re doing. “The money exists,” he said. “They’re just not willing to pay the amount of money that [we] deserve.”
  • What’s next: Tufts says they have “robust contingency plans” for staff to help students move in if the strike occurs.

Plans for a big new apartment complex at Braintree’s South Shore Plaza mall have been dropped, following stiff opposition from some local residents. The Patriot Ledger reports that the developer behind the project decided to withdraw the proposal after the city’s planning board recommended against zoning changes in the area.

  • The project would have been built in the South Shore Plaza parking lot, just off I-93. Despite repeatedly downsizing the project from 495 apartments to 290 units, Jim Dunlop, the managing director of the development firm ZOM Living, told the Boston Business Journal that they could not overcome “almost-blanket” opposition to multifamily housing in Braintree. Dunlop said they’re “actively looking for other towns” to work with.

Heads up, Red Line riders: Shuttle buses will replace service between North Quincy and Braintree station starting at 8:45 p.m. tonight, tomorrow and Thursday — and there’s more where that came from. The MBTA’s schedule of September diversions includes similar early closures of the North Quincy-to-Braintree stretch each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the first three weeks of September, plus several weekend diversions on the Red Line’s southern legs.

P.S.— It’s not just creative parody videos inspired by Sarah McLachlan and “The Office.” The state Department of Conservation and Recreation has installed additional, physical “Cars Only” signs this year by the entrance to Storrow Drive to prevent “Storrowing.” To paraphrase Dwight Shrute, “This is the bridge!”


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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