Podcast: Private Grant Allows Haverhill High Students to Complete Associate Degrees for Free

Haverhill High School Principal Jason Meland. (Courtesy photograph.)

Haverhill High School students in the Early College program at Northern Essex Community College have an opportunity to earn associate degrees for free.

Haverhill High School Principal Jason Meland, a recent guest on WHAV’s morning program, explains tuition is paid by the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation. The Newton, Mass.-based foundation awarded a $250,000 grant to launch the Promise Program next year, which allows Early College students to complete degrees they started in high school.

“In addition to expanding 9 through 12, our Early College offerings for kids, we’re going to be adding a 13th year, so kids who are engaged in Early College as juniors and seniors will have the option, next year, to opt into one more year,” he said.

Meland noted, during the additional year, students will be spending 100% of their time as college students on the campus of Northern Essex Community College. It comes with additional support and collaboration between Haverhill High and the College.

“And, they’ll be able to their associates degree by the end of that 13th year, this year at Haverhill High, which they’ll spend technically as college students. What it will do is get them, one year after high school, their associates degree for free,” the principal said.

Meland adds the $250,000 grant allows the program to be offered to 30 students next year, and then will be self-sustaining using state funding that Haverhill High School receives.

Since 2017, according to its website, the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation has invested nearly $10 million in more than half of the pioneering Early Colleges in Massachusetts, including those in Lawrence, Chelsea, Lowell, Lynn, Framingham and Boston.

“Students are graduating from high school with thousands of college credits, saving their families millions of dollars and reducing the time it takes to earn their degrees,” the Foundation reports.

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