Massachusetts Students Offered Tuition Rebate in Groundbreaking Offer

At a time when student loan debts are rising at a rapid rate, there is a plan to keep college a bit more affordable in Massachusetts.

The state will offer tuition rebates to some students to begin their studies at community college and then go on to earn bachelor's degrees at state universities.

Kerry Mouradian is excited for her road trip - a tour of college campuses with her 17-year-old daughter, Hannah. But as a single parent of two girls, she is also concerned about how the college bills will get paid.

"The thought of it is overwhelming," she said.

So Mouradian perked up when she heard about the new state college affordability plan, called Commonwealth Commitment, a program to encourage thousands of community college students to earn four-year degrees through rebates on tuition and by freezing the cost of tuition and fees at the student's first year.

The agreement between Gov. Charlie Baker and the state's public higher education leaders was signed Thursday at Middlesex Community College.

"Before grants, before scholarships, the total cost of an education could be somewhere between $24-26,000," said Baker. "That's a four-year degree through the public higher ed system."

Carlos Santiago, the commissioner of higher education, said the actual savings "will be more than $5,000 off the cost of a bachelor degree, and in some cases significantly more."

In order to qualify for Commonwealth Commitment, students need to attend a Massachusetts community college full-time for two years. They also need a cumulative 3.0 grade point average.

For Mouradian, who put herself through UMass Boston before transferring to Worcester State University, it seems like a very attractive option for her daughter, a go-getter with good grades at Walpole High School.

"I would like them to be aware of choices they have that could make it more affordable for them and still offer them great opportunities," Mouradian said.

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