Massachusetts is home to some of the most elite universities in the world, including Boston College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Tufts University. Massachusetts has some of the highest priced colleges in the nation. The commonwealth has more financial aid than other states. This includes valuable grants, scholarships, and tuition waivers. Cost of […]

Massachusetts is home to some of the most elite universities in the world, including Boston College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Tufts University.

Massachusetts has some of the highest priced colleges in the nation. The commonwealth has more financial aid than other states. This includes valuable grants, scholarships, and tuition waivers.

Cost of Education in Massachusetts

Massachusetts’ public education system is composed of nine universities, 15 community colleges and five campuses of the University of Massachusetts. More than 90 schools are available to students within the state.

Based on the 2020-21 National Center for Education Statistics average rate, here’s what you should expect to spend for an entire year in Massachusetts for tuition, fees, and room and Board for full-time undergrad students:

  • Twenty-eight thousand dollars, or about six thousand eight hundred dollars more than the average national amount.

  • The average cost of a private four-year college is $65,784, or $19,471 more than the national median.

  • Community College (in state): $5,000, which is about $2,028 more than the average national amount.

The Financial Aid Options in Massachusetts

A Massachusetts student attending a state-funded public school will pay less than half as much for a private university. To qualify for the in-state, lower rate, you need to be a resident of Massachusetts.

You must have lived in Massachusetts for 12 consecutive months before enrolling to qualify for the in-state rate. You must live in Massachusetts for at least six months prior to enrolling into a community school if you are applying.

Documentation or proof of residence may be required. Eligible documents include:

  • State and federal income tax returns

  • Employment pay stubs.

  • The Massachusetts High School Diploma

If they satisfy the residency requirement, students who qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Aliens (DACA), can receive in-state tuition. They are not eligible for any other aid from the state, including grants and scholarships.

Students without DACA are not eligible to receive state aid or in-state tuition.

State financial aid may help residents offset their education costs.

  • 529 plans.

  • Scholarships.

  • Waiver of tuition.

  • Assistance with student loan repayment

529 Plans

A 529 plan is a great tool for families that want to assist their children in paying for college.

Massachusetts offers two choices:

U.Fund College Investment Plan

U.Fund College Investing Plan, a Massachusetts 529 plan run by Fidelity is a college investment plan. You can invest your money and grow it to help pay for the education of a child. Contributions are deducted from your Massachusetts tax return. If you are single and filing a separate return, you can claim up to $1,000 per year.

Massachusetts offers a Baby Steps Program for all children who are born in or adopted from the state. The state will contribute $50 to your 529 if you open a U.Fund College Investing Plan within a year after your child is born or adopted.

U.Plan Prepaid Tuition Program

U.Plan Prepaid Program is Massachusetts’s prepaid education plan. You can buy credits for college at current rates and then redeem them in future at Massachusetts colleges or universities.

The plan also has a bonus: If your child decides to attend a school which does not participate in U.Plan, you may cash out and get all the money contributed plus interest calculated based on consumer price index. Cashing out your account will not have any federal or Massachusetts taxes.

State-funded tuition

Massachusetts is home to some of the best public universities and colleges in the country. They cost about half as much as private schools. Massachusetts also participates in the New England Regional Student Program, which offers residents of Massachusetts a discounted rate to attend out-of state New England public universities and colleges.

The network includes more than 2,500 programs for undergraduates and graduates. The eligible institutions include Connecticut, Maine Massachusetts New Hampshire Rhode Island Vermont and Vermont.

Massachusetts grants

Grants are a type of gift assistance that is usually based on need. Massachusetts has seven grant-operated programs.

Foster Child Grant Program

Foster Child Grant Program offers up to $6,000 per year in grant money for current foster kids or ex-foster children. To qualify for the grant, you must be aged between 18-25 at the time of the study. You can use the money to go to a Massachusetts public or private college up to 5 years in a row.

MASSGrant plus

These programs provide financial assistance to undergraduate students with an unmet need. The award amounts vary depending on the household income of the student, but they can be enough to cover any remaining fees and tuition. These programs do not cover room and board. MASSGrant Plus can cover textbooks and school fees.

Massachusetts Gilbert Matching Grant Student Program

Massachusetts Gilbert Matching Student Grant Program offers funding to private schools so they can give out grants to their students. The Massachusetts Gilbert Matching Student Grant Program provides funding to private schools for grants given to students.

Cash Grant Program

Cash Grant Program complements the Massachusetts Need Based Tuition Waiver Program. (See below). The Cash Grant Program provides grant money for students to cover additional educational expenses such as compulsory school fees at public colleges and Universities.

Part-Time Grant Program

Part-time Students at Public or Private Schools who have lived in Massachusetts for at least a year before the beginning of their studies may be eligible for the Part-Time Grant Program. The award amounts are variable, but the minimal amount is $200.

Public Service Grant Program

The Public Service Grant Program in Massachusetts covers the tuition costs of eligible schools for children and spouses of public servants who have been killed or disappeared while on duty.

Grant for Paraprofessional Teachers Preparation

The Paraprofessionals Teacher Preparation Grant is available to Massachusetts residents who have worked as paraprofessionals for at least 2 years and wish to be certified teachers. The grant program provides $7,500 for each academic year to support programs that lead to Massachusetts teacher certification.

Massachusetts Scholarships

Massachusetts offers several scholarship opportunities for students with exceptional academic achievement or those who have overcome major personal challenges. Scholarships can cover 100% or more of tuition costs depending on what the student is awarded. Seven state-operated scholarships programs are available:

Agnes M. Lindsay Scholarship Program

Students attending Massachusetts public universities are eligible for the Agnes M. Lindsay Scholarship Program. The student must be an eligible rural resident with less than 15 000 inhabitants and have demonstrated financial need. The amount of the award varies from year to year.

Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship Program

The Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship Program offers students who meet the criteria a scholarship that can cover up to 50% of their financial needs at any college or university located in the United States. Massachusetts residents must have overcome a difficult life situation, like poverty, abuse, or illness. The school, community organization or agency must nominate the student in 10th or 11th grades.

Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program HTML0

Massachusetts has created the Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program to increase both the quality and number of educators and caregivers. Select universities offer scholarships of up to $4500 each semester for students pursuing degrees related to early childhood education. The awardees are required to commit themselves to work in an eligible program at least for one year.

Massachusetts High Demand Scholarship Program

Students pursuing high-demand degrees that can help meet the workforce requirements of Massachusetts are eligible for this scholarship program. Students who are eligible and attend a Massachusetts public institution can get up to $6.500 per year. The MASSAid portal allows students to apply for the grant by filling out a separate form.

John & Abigail Adams Scholarship

Students can receive a scholarship that will pay up to 8 semesters at an accredited state university or college. This scholarship is based upon the performance of the student on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test (MCAS).

One Family Scholarship Program

One Family Scholarships are available to low-income parents, who lead their household and who may face homelessness in the future or have already experienced it within the last year. The award amounts can vary but they may cover living and tuition expenses for students who are pursuing degrees at Massachusetts schools.

Paul Tsongas Scholarship

Students with high scores in the SAT and ACT, as well as a 3.75 GPA or more are eligible for the Paul Tsongas Scholarship. Students who qualify can receive a tuition waiver at state universities.

Massachusetts tuition waivers

Massachusetts offers several programs that waive tuition fees in addition to its scholarship and grant program. You may be eligible for either a partial or full waiver depending on which program you apply to.

Career Advancement Program Tuition Waiver

Teachers in their first three years as public school teachers may qualify for the Career Advancement Program Tuition waiver. The Career Advancement Program Tuition Waiver waives up to 3 years of the costs for one graduate level course.

Categorical Tuition Refund

The Categorical Tuition Waiver is available to veterans, Native Americans (over 60), senior citizens, members of the U.S. Armed Forces, clients of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, or the Commission for the Blind. The tuition is waived at all public colleges and university within the state.

Collaborative Teachers Tuition Waiver

Collaborative teachers tuition waiver encourages full-time students teachers at public colleges and Universities to be mentors of teachers. Each mentoring teacher receives a waiver of the tuition for one course in a graduate level at a school.

Commonwealth Hurricane Katrina Emergency Tuition Waiver

Department of Children and Families Foster Child Tuition Waiver and fee Assistance Program

Waiver of Graduate Tuition

The Graduate Tuition Waiver Program was created by the state to encourage students enrolling in graduate schools. Its value changes each year but can be applied to tuition at universities like University of Massachusetts.

High Technology Scholar/Intern Tuition Remission

Incentive Program for Aspiring Teachers Tuition Remission

MassTransfer Tuition Waiver Program

Students who have earned an Associate Degree at a Massachusetts Community College and wish to transfer into a public school that participates in the MassTransfer Tuition Waiver Program are eligible for this program. The program waives tuition costs for up to 2 years.

Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority Prepaid Tuition Program

Program for Need-Based Tuition Assistance

Commonwealth Sept. 11, 2001 Tragedy Tuition Refund

This waiver covers tuition up to 100 percent for children or spouses who were killed or disappeared due to terrorist acts on September 11, 2001.

Stanley Z. Koplik Tuition Waiver for Certificate of Mastery

UMass Exchange Tuition Remission

UMass Exchange Tuition waiver allows University of Massachusetts Students to attend Partner Institutions without paying tuition. The eligibility varies from school to school.

Valedictorian program tuition waiver

The Valedictorian Program Tuition waiver is available to students who graduated as valedictorians from their Massachusetts high schools. The full tuition cost at public schools will be waived if you are eligible.

Washington Center Program Tuition Waiver

Students at Massachusetts’ public colleges and Universities are offered internships with government agencies, communications organizations, law offices and professional associations through the Washington Center Program Tuition Waiver. The Washington Center Program Tuition Waiver allows students to receive $2,000 in housing scholarships and a waiver on mandatory school fees.

State loan programs

Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority

MEFA is a non-profit organization created by Massachusetts’ state legislature. It offers low cost college loans to Massachusetts families. The organization offers loans for college students across the country, as well as student loan consolidation.

Repayment terms for undergraduates are either 10 or 15 year. The interest rates on all loans start at 4.89% and no fees are charged for origination.

The repayment period for graduate students or professionals is 15 years. The rates are fixed at 5.74 %.

Your credit rating, your income and if you have a joint signer will determine whether or not you are eligible.

Massachusetts No Interest Program

The Massachusetts No Interest Program, however, is limited to a few select applicants. This is a government-funded program which offers loans at 0% interest with 10-year terms. Students who are eligible can borrow up to $4,000 each academic year with a maximum lifetime of $20,000.

Only Massachusetts residents who have lived in the state for at least a year and are U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents can apply. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, determines eligibility.

Additional financial aid programs available in Massachusetts

You can get up to $250 per semester for transportation, textbooks or other costs.

Massachusetts Student Loan Repayment Programs

According to NerdWallet’s analysis of Federal Student Aid Office 2022 data, the average Massachusetts student loan balance is $33,710. You may qualify for assistance with student loan debt if you live in Massachusetts and have outstanding loans.

Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program

Up to $50,000 can be provided to help pay off student loans for primary health care providers in the areas of dental, mental, and medical health.

How to Apply for Financial Aid in Massachusetts

Complete these steps to apply for Massachusetts Financial Aid Programs:

  1. FAFSA. The state awards many programs based on financial need. The FAFSA will determine your financial need, so make sure to submit the form before the state deadline of May 1.

  2. Create an MASSAid Account Create an account on the MASSAid Portal.

  3. Completing a separate form. Some programs require their own application. The Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship Program, for example, has its own application that nominators must fill out through MASSAid. Fill out the necessary application forms and review any award criteria.

For questions regarding state-based assistance or to learn how to apply, you can contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance in Massachusetts at (617) 391-6070.