Bristol Community College president hopeful for free education proposal

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WLNE) — Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey announced a proposal Wednesday that would grant people over 25 years old, without a college degree, to go to community college for free. 

“Community colleges are the ticket to economic mobility,” Healey said, and it’s part of her budget for the year. 

The president of Bristol Community College in Fall River said 40% of the student population there is 25 and older. 

“That’s a real difference between community college and other four-year institutions, our average student is 25 or 26 years old,” Laura Douglas, the president of Bristol Community College said. 

The “Mass Reconnect Program” would target that age demographic, giving them free state funding, after they’ve exhausted financial aid. 

Douglas added that community college is more affordable to begin with, so the balance of state funding wouldn’t be as much as you’d think. 

“A good number of our students already are eligible for financial aid, and many of our students really leave without any debt, so this is a small investment for a really big bang,” she added. 

The proposed $20 million would not only allow adult learners to go to school for free, but it pays for books, fees, housing, tuition and more. 

“Tuition is free, wrap around services, lots of support,” Douglas said. 

Healey thinks offering this kind of education opportunity to adult learners, can also help fill labor-shortage gaps. 

“We came upon this one in particular because it was focusing on a population that we thought we could really reach,” Healey continued. 

As it remains a proposal for now, Healey’s budget would need approval from state legislature next. 

Categories: Fall River, Massachusetts, News