The Tuition-Free Community College Plan provides a path to free community college for eligible Boston residents who have earned their high school credential. Additionally, the plan matches students with coaches from Success Boston to help them navigate the challenges of higher education. Through this two-fold approach – both financial and interpersonal support – the plan aims to help more Boston students afford, attend, and complete college.

Below is a basic summary of the Tuition-Free Community College Plan. To review complete plan details or to apply for the plan, please visit the Tuition-Free Community College web portal on the BPS website.

TFCC posterPlan Overview

Eligibility Guidelines

  • Be a Boston resident
  • Graduate from a high school in Boston, graduate from high school as a METCO student, or earn your HiSET or GED
  • Receive your high school credential within 12 months of starting the plan
  • Have a grade-point-average of at least 2.0 (HiSET/GED earners excluded)
  • Require no more than three developmental courses by the start of the semester
  • Be eligible for a Pell Grant, as determined by the FAFSA
  • Have low to moderate household income, per HUD guidelines

Participating Colleges

  • Bunker Hill Community College
  • MassBay Community College
  • Roxbury Community College
  • Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology

Costs Covered

  • Tuition
  • Mandatory fees
  • School-related expenses

The exact costs covered at each college can vary by students’ degree of Pell eligibility. See the web portal for details.

The Boston Bridge

Tuition-Free Community College Plan students also have the opportunity to transfer to tuition-free four-year college through the Boston Bridge, a special collaboration with the state’s Commonwealth Commitment program. Through the Boston Bridge, a student can finish both their associate and bachelor’s degrees without ever having to pay tuition or mandatory fees. Boston Bridge students must meet additional eligibility requirements related to GPA, major, and the time they take to complete a degree. To learn more about the Boston Bridge, visit the information page on the Tuition-Free Community College Plan web portal.

Background

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the Tuition-Free Community College Plan in April 2016. In its first year, the plan enrolled 52 students whose households earned an average of $19,860 annually. Despite their economic challenges, the initial two cohorts have achieved a higher one-year retention rate (70%) than the state (59%) and national (49%) averages for community college students.

The Tuition-Free Community College Plan is funded by OWD and by the Neighborhood Jobs Trust, a public charitable trust that collects linkage fees from developers of large-scale commercial building projects in the city.

In October 2016 Mayor Walsh discussed the significance of the plan at a White House meeting of community college stakeholders nationwide. Listen to Mayor Walsh’s remarks below:

 

 

 

Further Reading

Media Coverage

BPS Students to Receive Two Years of Free Community College
WGBH, April 29, 2016

Walsh to Expand Free Community College Tuition Program
Boston Globe, Oct. 25, 2016

Mayor Introduces Plan to Expand Free College Tuition for Some Boston Students
Daily Free Press, Nov. 1, 2016

City Adds MassBay to Tuition-Free Plan for BPS Grads from Low-income Families
Boston Herald, Dec. 30, 2016

21 Intriguing New Ideas and Trailblazing People
Boston Globe Magazine, Jan. 5, 2017

MassBay Joins Tuition-Free Program
Wicked Local Wellesley, Jan. 5, 2017

Boston Students Get a Boost for College
BNN News, May 30, 2017

Walsh, Baker Announce Tuition-Free College Pilot Program
Fox 25 News, May 30, 2017

Free College Tuition Program Created for Low-Income Students in Boston
WBZ-TV News, May 30, 2017

Boston Bridge Aims to Provide Free College for Some Students
Boston Globe, May 30, 2017

Baker, Walsh Announce Tuition-Free College Pilot Program
Boston Herald, May 30, 2017

Boston Bridge Announcement
Boston City TV, May 30, 2017

How a New Boston Program is Helping Students with College Loan Debt
Boston Magazine, Sep. 2017

Seven Mayors Championing Free Community College
Forbes BrandVoice, Jan. 26, 2018

Mayor Walsh, Benjamin Franklin Institute Unveil Tuition-Free Degree Program for Boston Students
Boston Herald, March 20, 2019

Benjamin Franklin Institute Joins Boston Program that Offers Free College Tuition to BPS Grads
Boston Globe, March 20, 2019

Boston Expands Free College Tuition Plan to a Private School in the South End
WGBH, March 20, 2019

Press Releases
OWD Blog Articles
Other Resources

Tuition-Free Community College Plan & Boston Bridge Fact-Sheets
These downloadable fact-sheets give a quick overview of the plan’s eligibility requirements, participating schools, and benefits, as well as information about the Boston Bridge.

The America’s College Promise Playbook
A publication of the U.S. Department of Education, the playbook reviews current models for affordable community college nationwide, including the Tuition-Free Community College Plan.  

Learn about other Boston-based college funding opportunities.