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Daily News

BOSTON — Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll announced a historic financial-aid expansion that will benefit approximately 25,000 students attending the state’s public community colleges, state universities, and the University of Massachusetts. With close to $62 million in new program funding, the MASSGrant Plus Expansion program will cover tuition, fees, books, and supply costs for Pell Grant-eligible students and reduce out-of-pocket expenses for middle-income students by up to half.

“For so many Massachusetts residents, higher education can be the ticket to their future career and economic stability. Our employers are looking to graduates of Massachusetts’ exceptional public colleges to meet their workforce needs, and those graduates are most likely to stay in Massachusetts. But far too many people are held back from pursuing the education of their choice because of high costs,” Healey said. “This expansion of MASSGrant Plus will open doors for more students to access higher education, which will strengthen our economy as a whole. We’re grateful to our legislative partners for making this funding available and look forward to our continued collaboration to make Massachusetts more affordable.”

Not including room and board, MASSGrant Plus Expansion will cover the full cost of tuition and fees for Pell Grant-eligible students, including, for the first time, the federal-government-determined expected family contribution and an additional allowance of up to $1,200 for books and supplies. Middle-income students — defined as those whose families earn between $73,000 and $100,000 annually in adjusted gross income — will have their costs for tuition and mandatory instructional fees reduced by up to half of their out-of-pocket expenses. While middle-income students must be enrolled full-time to qualify, the expansion will extend MASSGrant Plus financial aid to both full- and part-time Pell Grant-eligible students for the first time.

“I’m thrilled that we’re able to deliver such a big investment and increase aid for nearly 25,000 public higher-education students,” Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler said. “By expanding access to higher learning, we’re able to connect even more students with the life-changing opportunities, high-quality educational experiences, and work-based training and skills development that our community colleges, state universities, and UMass offer.”

The program will be retroactive to the start of the fall 2023 semester for currently enrolled students. Students who have already completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2023-24 academic year will not need to take any further action to benefit from the additional financial-aid dollars; funds for the current semester will be credited to their accounts. Students who may qualify but have not filled out the FAFSA should do so immediately.

“Public higher education opens doors to transformational opportunities,” state Sen. Jo Comerford said. “I am tremendously excited to see how this expanded student assistance will catapult students, and our Commonwealth, forward.”