The MassGrant Plus program is a $7.1 million expansion of the existing MassGrant Program developed for part-time, degree-seeking students. This program is the first significant expansion of the state’s financial aid program in more than two decades.
Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito, Secretary of Education James Peyser and Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Carlos Santiago, visited our Quinsigamond Engineering, Science, and Technology (QuEST) Center for a roundtable discussion with part-time students. Jennifer Bemis, Oliver Dogma and Shantel Rutherford had an opportunity to share how this program will benefit community college students. Shantel and Jennifer both discussed the challenges of being single parents, while working and attending college. Oliver filled them in about what he faced as an immigrant coming to the United States from Ghana. All of three of them are firm believers that the MassGrant Plus program will have a positive impact on them as they pursue their degrees.
“I want to start by thanking the students who did a terrific job of representing the point of view of those who are juggling a lot of balls in life to find a way to pursue a degree in higher education,” Gov. Baker said, in a formal program after the roundtable discussion.
Governor Baker said the MassGrant Plus program was developed based on the recognition that more and more people have other things going on in their lives and there is a need to “be able to straddle more than one world.”
“For us it was important to use this program to not just expand it on traditional terms, but also make it available to part-time students, because it’s very clear to us – if you just look at higher education trends in general – they show us that more and more of the folks that are in higher ed are also working or they have other obligations they need to deal with,” said Baker.
Lt. Governor Polito also mentioned that often times students start college only to find they can’t finish due to financial struggles that include needing to buy such staples as food, childcare and fuel.
“By taking advantage of this, it closes that gap,” she said.
Here at QCC, 67 percent of students attended on a part-time basis during the Spring 2018 semester.
“We thank the Baker-Polito Administration for creating the MASSGrant Plus that will benefit community college students. We know that up to 1,000 of our students, will benefit directly from this program. We have students who are working multiple jobs, and single parents trying to cobble together an education while raising children. This is a game changer,” QCC President Luis Pedraja said.
“We’re pleased QCC is playing big in this space,” Gov. Baker said. “We’re very excited about the potential of this program and we look forward to working on it in the coming years. “