Everything to Know About MassReconnect: The Commonwealth’s Free Community College Program!

Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler, left, and Gov. Maura Healey, right, pose for a picture with MassBay student Danita Mends and family. (Max Larkin/WBUR). Photo and caption courtesy of WBUR.

Here’s what to know about Massachusetts’ MassReconnect program, which gives all Massachusetts residents over 25 without a degree the chance to go to community college for free! 

In August 2023, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey announced the introduction of the program as a lifeline to adults who have struggled to finish community college due to life getting in the way.

Student and mother Danita Mends, a beneficiary of MassReconnect, agreed and praised it as a “godsend” for allowing her to continue her education while juggling all the responsibilities of a working mother. 

How Much Does it Cover?

MassReconnect first covers the costs of tuition and fees, with additional stipends for books and supplies for whoever cannot afford them. As such, students who already receive enough aid from other sources will not be eligible for the program.

Who’s Eligible?

The program has the potential to benefit 1.8 million Massachusetts citizens who have a high school diploma or equivalent, and especially those who already have some college credits. 

Unfortunately, the program is not unconditionally free. Rather, its grants are need-based in order to use available funds as efficiently as possible and help those most in need.

While officials have projected the program will start off only benefiting only 8,000 people a year, the positive impact on lives like Ms. Mends’ shows the ripple effects that programs like this can have for entire communities. 

According to Bunker Hill Community college president Pam Eddinger, a quarter of the over 600 Bunker Hill CC students benefiting from the program in the Fall 2023 semester were previous dropouts who were able to restart their college education thanks to MassReconnect. 

How to Apply

So how can you apply and find out your eligibility? First, you must apply to and enroll in a Massachusetts community college of your choice, as all 15 in the Commonwealth are part of MassReconnect. Then, according to MassBay Community College, to be eligible for MassReconnect assistance you must: 

  • Be 25 or older on the first day of classes: January 22, 2024 for spring semester, May 22, 2024 for summer semester, or September 3, 2024 for fall semester.
  • Have been a permanent legal resident* of the Commonwealth for at least one year at start of the enrolled term.
  • Have not previously received an associate or bachelor’s degree or the equivalent.
  • Enroll in at least six credits per semester in an approved program of study leading to an associate degree or certificate.**
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress according to the college’s requirements.
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa. Use the 2023-24 FAFSA for the summer 2024 semester. Use the 2024-25 FAFSA for the fall 2024 semester or the spring 2025 semester. The fall 2024 semester at MassBay begins on September 5, 2024.