BCC Joined Governor Healey to Launch MassReconnect, a Program Offering Free Community College for Massachusetts Residents Ages 25 and Up

Each community college in Commonwealth to receive for $100,000 for implementation of program that will help meet workforce needs, address economic skills gap and offer transformative chance for Massachusetts adults to earn a degree.

MassReconnect logo

WELLESLEY, MA — Berkshire Community College (BCC) President Ellen Kennedy joined Governor Maura T. Healey yesterday at MassBay Community College to launch MassReconnect, a new program establishing free community college for Massachusetts residents ages 25 and older. Governor Healey awarded $100,000 to each of Massachusetts' 15 community colleges to support the quick implementation of the program this fall.

Governor Healey and President Kennedy were joined by Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, Senate President Karen Spilka, Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler, Commissioner of Higher Education Noe Ortega, and other community college presidents.

MassReconnect will be transformative for thousands of students, for our amazing community colleges, and for our economy. It will bolster the role of community colleges as economic drivers in our state and help us better meet the needs of businesses to find qualified, well-trained workers. We can also make progress in breaking cycles of intergenerational poverty by helping residents complete their higher education credentials so they can attain good jobs and build a career path. Our administration is grateful for the partnership of the Legislature to move forward on this critical program that will make our state more affordable, competitive and equitable.

Governor Maura T. Healey

Governor Maura T. Healey

"Our administration and our community college partners are ready to hit the ground running with MassReconnect this fall semester. We encourage any eligible students who might have been holding off on taking that final step to enroll to do so now to begin this next stage of their education and career," said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll.

"There has never been a more important time to make higher education accessible to all," said BCC President Ellen Kennedy. "Governor Healey's commitment to fund MassReconnect makes it clear that the Commonwealth values education — and the role it plays in filling jobs in a multitude of industries. We're so proud to help make that happen at BCC."

Governor Healey invested $20 million in MassReconnect for the first year of implementation in her first budget that she signed earlier this month. This funding covers the full cost of tuition and fees and includes an allowance for books and supplies at each of Massachusetts' 15 community colleges. Additionally, each community college will also receive $100,000 from this funding to support student and community program awareness, staffing, and program administration.

In order to qualify for MassReconnect, students must:

  1. Be 25 or older on the first day of classes;
  2. Be a permanent Massachusetts resident for at least one year at the start of the enrolled term;
  3. Have not previously earned a college degree (associate or bachelor's); and
  4. Enroll in at least six credits per semester in an approved program of study leading to an associate degree or certificate at a community college.

MassReconnect will likely support 6,500 – 8,000 community college students in the first year, which could grow to closer to 10,000 students by FY25, depending on how many students take advantage of the new opportunity. They could include current students, new students or returning students who did not complete their degree. There are approximately 700,000 Massachusetts residents who have some college credit but no degree. MassReconnect will help bring back these students to finish their degrees, with the additional funding and support they may have been lacking the first time.

The Commonwealth's community colleges are a ticket to economic mobility for many Massachusetts residents, and thus are key drivers of business and economic success. Nationally, employees who have earned an associate degree are paid 18 percent more than workers with only a high school diploma, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In July 2023, there were more than 26,000 unique job postings in the Commonwealth that specifically required an associate degree. MassReconnect will harness the power of our community colleges by allowing workers to earn the training and education necessary for their career growth and reinforcing our pipeline of skilled industry professionals entering the workforce.