What are MassGrant and MassGrantPLUS ? The Scholarships Offering Mass. Students Free or Almost-Free College

(Stuart Cahill/ Boston Herald)

While PHENOM’s goal of tuition-free public college is still a work in progress, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has fortunately brought us a step closer with its MassGrant and MassGrant PLUS programs. 

MassGrant, as one of Massachusetts’ main scholarship programs, has historically been very lacking in the aid it provides. But Governor Healey’s recent expansion of MassGrant PLUS funding by $62 million stands to benefit more than 25,000 students across the state’s public colleges who are eligible — from community colleges to the UMass system. 

MassGrant vs MassGrant PLUS

Both programs have similar requirements, namely: the lack of an existing degree; maintaining adequate academic progress (i.e. being a full-time student and not failing all your classes!); and not defaulting on any state or federal loans. 

But what are the differences between these programs, how much do they offer, and how do you apply? Massachusetts’ variety of financial aid programs can be pretty confusing, as these two related programs also have some differences in qualifications and benefits.

Fortunately, this Massachusetts Department of Education webpage is very helpful in clearing up differences.

How to Apply

First, how do you apply? According to the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority: 

“to become eligible for MASSGrant Plus Expansion, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or, for undocumented students who qualify through the new Massachusetts tuition equity guidelines, the Massachusetts Application for State Financial Aid (MASFA).”

Who is Eligible?

Both programs offer to cover some or all of direct costs like tuition and fees for any Pell-grant eligible students (i.e. with families’ yearly incomes at or below $30,000). Lower-income students who are not Pell-grant eligible can also qualify, but it is more complicated. 

Unlike Massgrant, according to WBUR reporting, Massgrant PLUS is available to middle-income families making between $73,000 and $100,000. Whether less wealthy families making less than $73,000 is not completely clear, though is implied if families earning up to $100,00 are eligible. The greatest factor besides how early you fill out the forms is how much money you actually need.

According to Massachusetts’ Office of Student Financial Assistance, MassGrant is available to students in any four-year college or higher-learning institution in Massachusetts. MassGrant PLUS, however, is only available to students attending Massachusetts community colleges or public universities like UMass-Amherst. 

While MassGrant becomes unavailable for anyone whose expected financial contribution is over $6656, MassGrantPLUS remains available for anyone with demonstrated financial need.


The two programs also have different deadlines: for the 2023-2024 school year, Massgrant’s deadline was May 1, 2023, in line with the FAFSA deadline. However, Massgrant PLUS’s deadline was seven months later on January 1, 2024. 

So what are you waiting for? Fill out the FAFSA (or MAFSA if undocumented) and seize the opportunity for tuition-free college!

Sources/ More Helpful Info: