BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor Healey announced in her inaugural address a program called MassReconnect aimed at expanding access to education in the state.
Healey’s MassReconnect program would allow those over 25 without a college degree to attend community college for free, but the legislature is at odds with how much it will cost. Healey put aside $20 million in her budget for the MassReconnect program, but that amount is being called into question as to whether that’s sufficient enough.
At a budget hearing last month, a representative said that if the estimated 700,000 state residents who don’t have a degree were to partake in the program, it would only come out to $28 per person in aid.
The Healey administration said that MassReconnect would not leave students behind without coverage. Students who want to enroll in the program first need to fill out an application for Federal Student Aid to see if they qualify for that aid first. MassReconnect would then fill in the costs.
The administration came to that $20 million earmark by estimating that only 6,500 – 8,000 students would use the MassReconnect program. There are an estimated 7,700 community college students over 25 who have unmet needs with Federal assistance.
House Speaker Ron Mariano said that the House’s budget would be put forward in mid-April and he has said in the past that he doesn’t believe the $20 million in the governor’s budget would be sufficient.
When asked today where the budget stands, his office said House Ways and Means is still working on it. The Senate has also signaled that they are working on a proposal to make community college free for all.