Massachussetts Students May Get Tuition Money Back, Thanks to Commonwealth Commitment

Posted By Eliana Osborn on April 29, 2016 at 9:13 am
Massachussetts Students May Get Tuition Money Back, Thanks to Commonwealth Commitment

As different states figure out ways to get more students attending and graduating from college, most are emphasizing no-cost enrollment. Massachusetts is taking a different path, one that rewards you for passing your classes each semester.

The Commonwealth Commitment, or MAComCom, is a multi-pronged approach to getting students from start to bachelor’s degree at a reasonable price and in a reasonable timeframe. Step one is to enroll in a state community college, maintaining a 3.0 grade point average, and completing an associate degree within 2.5 years.

In exchange, tuition and fees are frozen at the level when a student first begins the CC program. Some years, tuition barely budges but over the past decade, there have been years where some state schools increased tuition by double digits. Additionally, there’s a 10% tuition and fee rebate, processed as a check available at the end of each semester.

MassTransfer is the state’s community college to state university pathway; the Commonwealth Commitment works in tandem. To ensure that students earn credits that will transfer and count toward further degrees, MassTransfer makes clear the programs that are eligible for continuing. The process is smooth and guarantees admission to state four-year schools for those who enroll in linked programs.

MassTransfer began in 2009 and is expanding for fall 2016 with more programs and pathways involved. When a community college grad completes an associate degree and transfers, there is an additional tuition credit in addition to the 10% semester end rebates.

Not every program or major is eligible for MAComCom or MassTransfer; included are things like sciences, education, emergency management, and others. According to Katy Abel, associate commissioner for external affairs at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, Massachusetts will be the first state to address both affordability and graduation rate with one program.

“Individual students will benefit and could save thousands, but the state will too, and that’s part of the motive for the Commonwealth Commitment,” says Abel. “Massachusetts has a knowledge-driven economy and faces shortages of college grads in high-demand fields. There are an estimated 17 job openings in computer science/IT for every one recent graduate with a degree in a related field. The Commonwealth Commitment is part of a larger effort to help more students get to commencement day with the degrees needed to compete for jobs.”

If students are unable to maintain the required GPA or only enroll on a part-time basis, they will be dropped from the Commonwealth Commitment. Twenty-eight colleges and universities in Massachusetts are available for students to enroll at, and the Department of Higher Education estimates average savings of more than $5,000 for participants.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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