GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– Greenfield Community College (GCC) held an event this week to celebrate the state’s new MassReconnect program.

The program was created to offer free community college for Massachusetts residents aged 25 and older, and the state awarded $100,000 to each of Massachusetts’ 15 community colleges to get started. Governor Maura Healey announced the program on August 24 and included $20-million for the program in the state’s budget.

Joining GCC’s president Michelle Schutt at the celebration were Berkshire Community College President Ellen Kennedy, Holyoke Community College President George Timmons, STCC President John B. Cook, who all welcome the opportunity to expand educational opportunities for adults across the state.

STCC student Sarai Andrades spoke at the event and expressed her relief at not having to accumulate extensive debt to achieve her educational goals.

“As a low-income Latin woman with only one income in the household and other bills to pay, I’m thrilled to qualify for the MassReconnect program,” Andrades remarked. “MassReconnect opens the door for me to pursue a career in the nursing field without worrying about the costs of tuition and other educational expenses. The program significantly reduces the financial burden of pursuing higher education.”

In order to qualify for MassReconnect, students must be 25 or older on the first day of their classes and be a permanent Massachusetts resident for at least one year at the start of the enrolled term. The program is limited to residents who have not previously earned a college degree (associates or bachelor’s) who enroll in at least six credits per semester in an approved program of study leading to an associate degree or certificate at a community college. The funding covers the full cost of tuition and fees and includes an allowance for books and supplies for qualifying students.

The fall semester at local community colleges begin next week. For more information about MassReconnect, contact the admissions office at the community college of your choice.