Here's who's eligible for free (or reduced) college tuition under the expanded Mass. grant program

Students and faculty walk out of the campus center at UMass Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Students and faculty walk out of the campus center at UMass Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

While both Congress and Beacon Hill were kicking cans down the road yesterday, here’s a look at what is happening:

Where the millionaires tax money is going: Roughly one-third of all UMass system students now qualify for free tuition, under a big expansion of college financial aid announced yesterday by Gov. Maura Healey. According to Healey, the new program will use $62 million from the new millionaires tax enacted last year to fund expanded grants for 25,000 students attending local community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses. Here’s a look at who’s eligible:

  • Low-income students: Under the expansion, the state will fully cover the cost of tuition and fees at the state’s public colleges for Pell Grant-eligible students, who generally come from families who make less than $40,000 a year or have other difficult financial situations. Specifically, the state will fill the gap between existing financial aid and full tuition costs by covering students’ FAFSA-determined “expected family contribution.” The new grants will also offer them up to $1,200 for books and supplies (though it doesn’t cover room and board). Additionally, both full- and part-time Pell Grant-eligible students will qualify for the aid.
  • Middle-income students: Those whose families earn between $73,000 and $100,000 are also eligible to get their out-of-pocket tuition and fees reduced by 50%. However, middle-income students must be enrolled full-time to qualify.
  • What if I already started paying for college this fall? You still might get aid. According to the state’s website, students who are deemed eligible for expanded grants will get funds applied retroactively to the start of the fall 2023 semester.
  • The big picture: The new program isn’t the first college financial aid expansion under Healey. Earlier this year, the state also made local community college free for Bay Staters older than 25. However, some advocates are pushing Healey to go even further. “All the way through the end of the 1980s, you could go to UMass Amherst, you could work 10 hours a week, at a minimum-wage job and graduate debt-free,” Max Page, the president of the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association, told WBUR’s Max Larkin. “That’s all we’re trying to recreate.”

Route 3 commuters, rejoice: Both sides of Route 3 in Billerica reopened just a few hours ago, after a fuel tanker rolled over on the highway yesterday. While no one was seriously injured in the multi-car crash, the tanker spilled fuel across the highway, leading to a cleanup that closed a stretch of Route 3 in both directions for over 18 hours. (Anyone driving north of Boston yesterday afternoon knows the resulting traffic backups were bad.)

Walkouts brewing: Today is Starbucks’ annual Red Cup Day — and workers at more than 200 stores nationwide plan to stage walkouts in protest of the chain’s opposition to unionization efforts.

PSA: It might be worth checking your bank account if you visited certain local Market Baskets last month (and no, not to bask in those sweet, sweet savings). Police say credit card skimmers were recently found at the Market Baskets in Haverhill, Reading and Somerville, as well as stores in Concord and Nashua, New Hampshire. Reading and Concord police have also released photos of the suspects.

P.S.— Tomorrow is National Hiking Day, and it looks like we should have pretty great weather for it, as far as mid-November in New England goes. If you’re planning to start your weekend early, check out this list of easy local hikes you can access on the MBTA.


Headshot of Nik DeCosta-Klipa

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



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