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Massachusetts scholarships, student loans and grants

You may be able to get 100% of your tuition covered.

The average Massachusetts graduate leaves school with over $30,000 in student debt. But fortunately, the state offers a variety of need- and merit-based scholarships, grants, tuition waivers and interest-free loans to help offset the costs.

Top Massachusetts college scholarships

High-achieving students throughout the state of Massachusetts might be eligible for one of these merit-based scholarships.

Massachusetts High Demand Scholarship Program

The Massachusetts High Demand Scholarship awards students who are pursuing a degree in a field that’s considered high demand by the Massachusetts Legislature. For the 2018-19 academic year, applications are open to Massachusetts State university students who are pursuing a STEM degree.

John and Abigail Adams Scholarship

The John and Abigail Adams Scholarship awards high school students who’ve earned Advanced scores on the 10th grade Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). The exact award amount depends on the school you choose to attend. If you do decide to accept this aid, keep in mind that it can’t be combined with any other tuition credits, which could reduce the total amount you receive.

Paul Tsongas Scholarship

The Paul Tsongas Scholarship gives up to five students at each Massachusetts State university a tuition waiver every year. Because it’s a merit-based scholarship, you’ll need to have at least a 3.75 high school GPA and a minimum SAT score of 1200 to qualify. Contact the college you plan on attending for the application and deadlines.

Other Massachusetts scholarship programs

The scholarships listed above are largely based on merit, but Massachusetts also has a few need-based scholarships for specific groups.

  • Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program. If you’re currently employed as an early childhood or out-of-school time teacher and want to pursue an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree in Early Childhood Education, this scholarship is for you. It offers up to $500 per credit hour with a maximum of $4,500 per semester.
  • Agnes M. Lindsay Scholarship Program. This program is geared toward students living in the rural areas of Massachusetts who plan on attending a state school. Award amounts vary, but you’ll need to demonstrate financial need to qualify.
  • Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship Program. If you’ve faced great adversity in your life — be it mental, physical, geographical or societal — you may be able to get up to 50% of your college costs covered at any school within the continental US.
  • One Family Scholarship Program. This need-based program is designed to help families work their way out of poverty through access to higher education. To qualify, you must be the head of household in your family. Recipients are awarded enough to cover tuition, fees and related living expenses to attend college.

Must read: Massachusetts tuition waiver programs

In addition to its scholarship and grant opportunities, Massachusetts also has a couple of tuition waiver programs. Many of these target specific groups — like those with financial need, strong academics or pursuing teaching — and may cover up to 100% of the cost of tuition.

To apply for a tuition waiver, contact your university about the application process, deadlines and requirements. You can also get in touch with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s office to learn more about specific programs you might be eligible for.

Top Massachusetts grants for school

On top of scholarships and tuition waivers, Massachusetts has several grants available for students facing financial hardship.

MASSGrant and MASSGrant Plus

The MASSGrant and MASSGrant Plus programs help cover the gap between a student’s expected family contribution (EFC) and the actual cost of tuition and fees.

The original MASSGrant program was designed for students attending an eligible institution in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, while the new MASSGrant Plus program helps students attending a Massachusetts community college.

To apply, you simply need to complete the FAFSA by the annual deadline — your eligibility for the grant is calculated for you.

Cash Grant Program

The Cash Grant Program was designed to offset any costs not covered by the Need-Based Tuition Waver Program. It’s generally offered as part of a campus-based financial aid package. And unlike many grants, you may qualify even if you’re only pursuing three credit hours per semester.

Part-Time Grant Program

The Part-Time Grant Program is designed to help students afford the tuition and fees of a part-time education. Because many grants focus on full-time students, the Part-Time Grant hones in on students who might not be eligible for other aid, with awards starting at $200.

Other Massachusetts grant programs

Massachusetts has four other grant programs for students, all of which target specific groups based on need.

  • Paraprofessional Teacher Preparation Grant. Are you a paraprofessional dreaming of becoming a certified teacher? This grant is for you. Award amounts vary based on the school you’re attending, with a maximum of $7,500 per year. If awarded a grant, you must sign an agreement to work in a Massachusetts public school for two to four years.
  • Public Service Grant. Children and spouses of public and civil servants killed in the line of duty — including police offers, firefighters and veterans — may qualify for this grant. Awards are equal to your school’s full-time annual tuition or the tuition charged at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst if you’re attending a Massachusetts State university.
  • Gilbert Matching Student Grant Program (GMSGP). This program offers grants of $200 to $2,500 per year to undergraduate students based on financial need. To apply, contact your school’s financial aid office for instructions and deadlines.
  • Foster Child Grant. Former Massachusetts foster children could qualify for up to $6,000 per year to attend a program at any college or university in the continental US. To apply, contact the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Office or your social worker.

Do I qualify for Massachusetts scholarships and grants if I go to school out of state?

It depends on which you’re applying to. For many of the scholarships and grants listed on this page, you’ll need to attend school in Massachusetts to receive student aid. Often it’s any nonprofit or for-profit institution within the state, but some are limited to specific state universities. However, some grants and scholarships — like the Foster Child Grant and Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship — can be used at any school within the continental US.

Check your scholarship, grant or tuition page on the Massachusetts Office of Student Financial Assistance website for more information.

Does Massachusetts offer special student loans to residents?

Yes, Massachusetts runs a No Interest Loan (NIL) program to help residents with financial need pay for college. As the name implies, these loans don’t come with interest, and you can borrow anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 annually. You’ll have 10 years to pay it back — just like with federal loans — and you can use your loan to attend any postsecondary institution in the state, provided it participates in the program.

You don’t need to fill out a special application for a NIL, either. You’ll find out if you qualify after your FASFA is processed.

Eligibility requirements

To qualify, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:

  • Massachusetts resident for at least one year prior to the start of the loan
  • Demonstrate financial need — determined by federal criteria
  • Apply for financial aid through the FAFSA
  • Enrolled full time in a certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree program at an eligible school
  • In compliance with the Selective Service Registration
  • No defaults on any federal or state student loans
  • No refunds owed on any previous financial aid
  • No previously earned bachelor’s degree
  • US citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress

Other ways to pay for school in Massachusetts

When you’ve run out of state-funded scholarship, grant and loan options in Massachusetts, consider these alternatives.

Federal and college scholarships and grants

When you fill out the FAFSA, you may discover you qualify for federal grants based on your financial need. Universities also offer their own merit- and need-based scholarships. Harvard has a generous financial aid program that can help lower your out-of-pocket expenses.

Federal and private student loans

When you’ve exhausted free financial aid, start your student loan search with federal Direct Loans. These often have lower rates than private loans and come with more flexible repayment options. If those fail to cover all of your expenses, then it’s time to consider your private student loan options.

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Explore scholarships, student loans and grants in other states

Bottom line

Massachusetts makes it easy for residents to lower the cost of college through a series of scholarships, grants and tuition waivers. And with interest-free student loans on the table as well, you won’t have to face crippling rates once you graduate if you do need to borrow.

Have more expenses to cover? Read our guide to student loans to explore your other funding options.

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