Mayor Martin J. Walsh this week announced the city’s plans to expand the Tuition-Free Community College Plan, which pays for community college tuition and mandatory fees for income-eligible Boston Public School graduates. Though the plan was initially designed to pay for students who attended Bunker Hill Community College or Roxbury Community College, the city is now considering including Quincy College and Mass Bay Community College as well, Walsh said.

This is not the first expansion of the Tuition-Free Community College Plan. When it was first announced in April, the plan’s eligibility guidelines required applicants to have a 2.2 GPA and need no developmental classes. In response to public feedback, the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, which administers the plan, broadened the guidelines to include students who had a 2.0 GPA and needed no more than three developmental classes.

Mayor Walsh with two staff, standing in front of projection screen
Mayor Walsh and OWD staff at the White House’s community college summit.

In a panel discussion held at the White House today, Mayor Walsh championed free and accessible college as a powerful intervention in social challenges like income inequality, crime, and criminal justice reform.

“We need to do more on the front end,” he said. “Because education is the way out of all that.”

Walsh identified two immediate obstacles that the Tuition-Free Community College Plan seeks to address:

  1. Too many BPS graduates are not going on to college.
  2. Community colleges struggle with graduation rates.

The plan, in turn, offers two solutions:

  1. Promote community college by making it more affordable.
  2. Pair participants with Success Boston coaches, who can help students make the transition to college and stay on track toward completion.

“We’re putting a big spotlight on graduation, on college, as a real opportunity for folks for the economy of the future,” Walsh said.

The panel discussion was part of the White House “Community College Convening” event, which highlighted best practices in community college reform and brought together stakeholders form across the country. Jerry Abramson, deputy assistant to President Obama and director of intergovernmental affairs at the White House, moderated the panel and called Boston’s Tuition-Free Community College Plan “a model” for other communities.

“If Boston can do this,” Walsh said, “other places can do this.”

Watch Mayor Walsh discuss the plan on the White House panel.