Northern Essex Community College Says Expanded Program Fills in Gaps in Student Financial Aid

Northern Essex Community College President Lane A. Glenn. (WHAV News photograph.)

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Northern Essex Community College is among state public colleges and universities hailing an expansion of student financial aid following Gov. Maura Healey administration’s Wednesday launch of the MASSGrant Plus Expansion program.

Not including room and board, MASSGrant Plus Expansion will cover the total cost of tuition and fees for Pell Grant-eligible students, including, for the first time, the federal government-determined expected family contribution and an additional allowance of up to $1,200 for books and supplies.

Just shortly after the state announcement at Salem State University, Northern Essex Community College President Lane A. Glenn told members of the college’s NECC Foundation that, while “Our lowest income students are already covered. This benefits students in the next bracket up. This will fill in some of the gaps,” he said.

The program is retroactive to the start of the fall semester for currently enrolled students. In a separate statement Thursday, Glenn noted the change could benefit as many as 2,000 students currently enrolled at Northern Essex.

“Making higher education more affordable and accessible is a win for all of us in Massachusetts. The state’s public college students are more likely to live and work in the state following graduation. This investment will pay dividends in educating and retaining the talent needed for a healthy state economy,” he said.

Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll provided nearly $62 million in new program funding for the MASSGrant Plus Expansion program.

“For so many Massachusetts residents, higher education can be the ticket to their future career and economic stability. Our employers are looking to graduates of Massachusetts’ exceptional public colleges to meet their workforce needs. But far too many people are held back from pursuing the education of their choice because of high costs,” said Healey. “This expansion of MASSGrant Plus will open doors for more students to access higher education, which will strengthen our economy as a whole.”

Middle-income students—defined as those whose families earn between $73,000 and $100,000 annually in adjusted gross income—will have their costs for tuition and mandatory instructional fees reduced by up to half of their out-of-pocket expenses. While middle-income students must be enrolled full-time to qualify, the expansion will extend MASSGrant Plus financial aid to both full- and part-time Pell Grant-eligible students for the first time.

Students who have already completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for the 2023-2024 academic year will not need to take any further action to benefit. Funds for the current semester will be credited to their accounts. Students who may qualify but have not filled out the FAFSA are advised do so and contact the college’s financial aid department.

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