student between library bookshelves
Eddie Barreto in the library of Roxbury Community College, where he goes to school.

As a runner on the Roxbury Community College (RCC) track team, Eddie Barreto knows that the measure of a race is the finish. Nearing the end of his first year of college, he is now halfway to an associate’s degree in business administration, with still more educational road ahead of him: He plans to transfer to a four-year college and eventually pursue a master’s, likely in sports medicine or management.

But in a sense, this first year is already a victory. Thanks in part to the Tuition-Free Community College Plan, Barreto is the first of his family to go to college.

The Tuition-Free Community College Plan is an initiative of the City of Boston that covers tuition and mandatory fees for income-eligible Boston Public Schools graduates who attend one of three local community colleges. That financial help has made a big difference for Barreto, a Madison Park Technical Vocational High School grad and native of Dorchester’s Franklin Field neighborhood, who sought out community college as the perfect fit for his plans.

“I’m not one to like to be in debt for anything,” Barreto said. “I got accepted to a bunch of four-year schools, but some cost almost $30,000 a year. That’s something I don’t have.”

He said he knew one person who racked up $120,000 in debt at a four-year school. “That’s a house right there,” Barreto said.

Always one with an eye on the finish line, Barreto would rather save money now so he can have the financial wherewithal to pursue his education for the long-haul.

“[The Tuition-Free Community College Plan] has helped me with getting my core classes out the way,” Barreto said. “So when I go to a four-year college, it’ll be less money.”

And he’ll be one step closer to his goal.


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