Baker Proposes Increased Funding to Help Low-Income Students Afford College

In next year's budget, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has proposed an $18 million expansion of the MassGrant Plus program to cover in-state tuition and fees for low-income undergraduate students

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The cost of sending your child to college can be daunting. Between tuition and fees, it can add up to a price tag that is simply unaffordable for many families.

"Forty percent of students are low-income, and if you're not affordable, you're not accessible," said Bridgewater State University President Fred Clark.

That's why Clark is excited about Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's proposed $18 million dollar expansion of the MassGrant Plus program in next year's fiscal budget.

"By the state stepping up and putting forward its resources, we will save students from going over the cliff," Clark said.

"The MassGrant Plus program provides the last dollar gap-filling resource in order to ensure that that need is fully met," said Education Secretary Jim Peyser.

Peyser says parents would just need to fill out the standard FAFSA forms, and the MassGrant Plus program would cover all tuition and fees that are not covered by federal, state or institutional aid. All low-income, in-state, undergraduate students attending a public college, university or community college in Massachusetts would qualify.

"To enable them to complete college without having to take on personal debt," said Peyser.

Some parents we spoke with were excited about the prospect of a debt-free future for their kids upon graduation.

"If we could get the help, that would be very helpful for our kids," said Boston parent Thanks Rejouis.

Other parents were more cautiously optimistic.

"On the surface, it sounds great, but you know there's no such thing as free lunch, somebody's paying for it," said Wellesley parent Maria Smith.

Clark argues the money spent on sending low-income students to college now will pay dividends in the future.

"It's important for the state of Massachusetts," said Clark, "so that we can produce more highly educated workers that our economy desperately needs."

State lawmakers are now in the process of weighing in on the governor's proposed budget, including the increased funding for MassGrant Plus.

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