HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The State Senate has released it’s budget proposal which includes funding to jumpstart free community college for students across the commonwealth, but it’s just the beginning of the initiative.
Students and leadership at Holyoke Community College spoke with 22News about the new funding push, and has details on what comes first. “We are increased access and opportunity for all. However in order for access to really be realized. We have to make sure the affordability aspect is addressed,” Holyoke Community College President, Christina Royal told 22News.
The State Senate including a total of $45 million dollars in its budget proposal to kickstart the state’s free community college initiative. The budget also includes funding to launch a new project call Mass Reconnect with the goal of offering free community college for students across the state. This first iteration though only applies to certain students.
The Mass Reconnect program would cover tuition, fees, books and supplies for anyone over the age of 25, who has lived in Massachusetts for at least one year, and has a high school diploma or equivalent.
“My education really meant a lot for me breaking down barriers and changing my past and making a bright future for myself,” HCC Student, over age 25, Tavar Jones says.
The Senate budget includes $20 million dollars to fund the mass reconnect program right away, the same amount laid out in the House’s proposal. Looking forward, the Senate has another $15 million dollars proposed research strategies to offer statewide free community college for all.
First, though, these proposals have to be approved. The fiscal year begins July 1.