News Brief

Governor Healey Signs State Budget into Law, Ushering in a New Era of Free Community College in Massachusetts

Thursday, August 10, 2023

MassReconnect Makes Community College Tuition-Free for Students Aged 25 and Older with No College Degree Starting This Fall; Includes Expansion of In-State Tuition to Undocumented Immigrant Students

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey signed a $56 billion state budget into law on Wednesday, making Massachusetts Community Colleges tuition-free for many students and expanding in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students who attended high school in Massachusetts. 

“This is a transformational budget for Massachusetts community colleges,” said Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Y. Eddinger. “I am grateful to Governor Healey, our partners in the Massachusetts Legislature, and to supporters of the community college movement for the leadership and hard work that made it possible.” 

The budget includes MassReconnect, the state’s first tuition-free community college program, along with a program making community college tuition-free for students in nursing degree programs. Students aged 25 and over with no previous college degree are eligible for free tuition under MassReconnect—a group that includes an estimated 700,000 people across Massachusetts.  

Prospective students considering enrolling at community college as soon as this fall can take advantage of these free tuition programs by contacting the BHCC Admissions Office or attending one of the College’s Start Now events, held every Saturday on the Charlestown Campus through early September. 

In addition to free community college, the budget also extends in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students who attended high school in Massachusetts, joining at least 23 other states with similar tuition equity laws. 

BHCC student Caio Rodrigues offered written testimony at a joint legislative hearing on the measure earlier this summer: “I graduated from high school in Somerville, MA, and now attend Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. I take a few classes at a time because it’s all I can afford. I have a GPA of 3.95 on a 4.0 scale and joined the honors society … I missed the opportunity to apply for DACA; this was out of my control because a federal judge in Texas halted new applications … My educational goal is to earn a doctorate in Astronautical Engineering and to follow that with a career in rocket science. I can’t wait for in-state tuition and aid to become a reality, so I can be a full-time student.” 

The legislature also passed several other measures that will benefit the large number of BHCC students with children, including a groundbreaking universal free school lunch program and $475 million in Commonwealth Cares for Children, or C3, Grants, which are being made to childcare providers for the first time without Federal assistance.