Massachusetts Student Grants for College
Fund Your Education with Free Grant Money
The state of Massachusetts has done a commendable job of maintaining its investment in higher education, currently offering eight different types of grants for college-bound Massachusetts students. The Massachusetts Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) is the state agency that administers these grant programs, and OSFA is the logical place to begin any search for financial aid if you live in Massachusetts.
Grants From the Office of Student Financial Assistance
Foster Child Grant
Massachusetts gives children in the state’s foster care system the option to sign an agreement in which the Department of Children and Families (DCF) provides additional services to the child after the eighteenth birthday if the child meets certain benchmarks (for example, you must register with Selective Service if legally required to do so). The Foster Child Grant pays up to $6,000 each year, and the benefit ends when you turn 24 or earn an undergraduate degree.
Note: DCF also lists other types of college assistance for foster children here. The tuition waiver is of particular interest.
The MASSGrant supports financially needy students enrolled in approved courses of study. MASSGrant uses the information on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your Expected Family Contribution, and your EFC must be at or under $4,995 to qualify for the MASSGrant. You must attend full-time (meaning at least 12 credits), seeking a certificate, associates degree, or bachelors degree.
You must also meet the federal and school standards referred to as satisfactory academic progress. MASSGrant will pay for two semesters each year for a four- or five-year program.
Massachusetts Gilbert Matching Student Grant
The Massachusetts Gilbert Matching Student Grant Program (GMSGP) also directs financial aid to needy students. If you are still a dependent, your sponsoring parent must have lived in Massachusetts for one year prior to the start of the school year, and you must be a permanent legal resident of the state. If you are independent, then you must have been a permanent Massachusetts resident during that preceding year.
The GMSGP awards range from $200 to $2,500 per year. There is a helpful summary of criteria for institutional eligibility (the schools at which you can use Massachusetts grants like the Gilbert), but in general any school accredited to bestow credentials will do (with the exception of religious education).
Massachusetts Cash Grant
The Massachusetts Cash Grant is also reserved for students in straitened circumstances, and it is designed to enhance the state’s Need-Based Tuition Waiver. The waiver program’s purpose is to offset increases in tuition at public colleges and universities by raising the level of state aid to needy students in compensation, and the goal is to ensure higher education remains accessible to all residents of the state.
Cash Grants may be applied to mandatory fees and tuition and may not exceed the total of those two expenses for any given academic period. Recipients must enroll for at least three credits every semester (less than the part-time requirement below in recognition of the fact students must also work).
Massachusetts Part-Time Grant
The Massachusetts Part-Time Grant is the state’s response to its changing economy and demographics, which have resulted in a larger population of part-time students. More adults are now taking classes part-time to increase their marketability, more younger students are following suit because of the continually rising cost of college, and Massachusetts has a strong commitment to making sure those who want to attend school can do so.
The state has defined part-time enrollment as anything between six and eleven hours in each term, with twelve hours classified as full-time.
Massachusetts Public Service Grant
The Massachusetts Public Service Grant is distinguished by being the state’s only entitlement program (that is, one that benefits a certain class of people). Public Service Grants go to the remaining family members of people killed in the line of duty in a public service position. There are three possible categories of qualifying public servants, as follows:
- Police or corrections officer, or firefighter who was killed or died from injuries received on the job. Authorized training duty is included, and both the children and the spouse of the deceased are eligible for the educational award.
- Military service member who was a prisoner of war or missing in action in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war. Any service between February 1, 1955 and the end of American deployment for Vietnam is eligible.
- Veteran of the armed forces for whose service the state of Massachusetts received credit, and who was killed or died as a result of that service.
Paraprofessional Teacher Preparation Grant
Like most states, Massachusetts pays special attention to funding teacher training due to a shortage of credentialed teachers. The Paraprofessional Teacher Preparation Grant goes to paraprofessionals like teacher’s aides and special education assistants who work in public schools and want to earn a teacher’s certificate. Although financial need is not required, applicants must keep a current FAFSA on file, updated annually.
If you have worked for less than two years as a paraprofessional, you must pursue a certification in one of the state’s critical need subjects (currently mathematics, science, foreign languages, and special or bilingual education).
Massachusetts Educational Rewards Grant
The purpose of the Massachusetts Educational Rewards Grant is to help low income employees move into certain occupations in which they can earn more money. The award is intended to serve as a last resort after the student has exhausted all other federal and state resources in funding new vocational training. As of now, you can earn no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify, but you should check with the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development for updates.