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UMass Offering $5,000 Annual Scholarships for Massachusetts Community College Graduates Finishing in Top 10% of Their Class

The UMass Community College Advantage Scholarship is designed to encourage timely associate degree completion, expand access to a four-year college degree for historically underrepresented students and strengthen the commonwealth’s talent pipeline
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The University of Massachusetts has announced that the top 10% of the commonwealth’s future community college graduates will receive a minimum of $5,000 per year above federal and private financial aid if they enroll at one of the four nationally ranked UMass campuses in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell.

The Community College Advantage Scholarship (CCAS) is designed to incentivize highly talented community college students to finish their associate degree at one of the commonwealth’s 15 community colleges, and then complete their bachelor’s degree at UMass.

The CCAS also seeks to address two challenges facing public higher education in Massachusetts:

  • Providing equitable access to historically underrepresented groups of students in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on race-based admissions, and
  • Strengthening the commonwealth’s talent pipeline as the number of high school graduates in Massachusetts is projected to decline in the coming years, the existing population is aging out of the workforce and more young people are leaving the state

“We want to send a clear message that UMass welcomes highly talented community college graduates to continue their pursuit of a college degree on our nationally ranked Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell campuses,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “We believe this initiative will lead to more community college graduates choosing to finish their four-year degree at UMass, which will accelerate their upward economic trajectory and strengthen the commonwealth’s workforce.”

“Community college campuses across Massachusetts are filled with talented, hardworking, diverse populations of students, ready to thrive at UMass,” said Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger. “The Community College Advantage Scholarship will help more of them realize their dreams for a high-quality education that will prepare them for meaningful careers in the commonwealth.”

Starting in Fall 2024, the CCAS will help develop and retain diverse talent in Massachusetts by:

  • Guaranteeing students in the top 10% of their community college graduating class admission to a University of Massachusetts campus and a minimum of $2,500 per semester ($5,000 annually) for a total of at least $10,000 for the students’ final two years of college
  • Students remain eligible for additional aid based on individual circumstances
  • The CCAS will supplement federal and private grants awarded to the student

To be eligible for the Fall 2024 CCAS, students must:

  • Complete their degree in the top 10% of their graduating class at their college. This will be calculated as of the end of the semester prior to the UMass financial aid priority deadline (Students applying for fall admission must have been in the top 10% of their class as of the end of the Fall 2023 semester)
  • Complete the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or equivalent state financial aid application
  • Be eligible for in-state tuition
  • Have earned 45+ credits that are transferable to UMass
  • Be on track to complete their associate degree prior to the Fall 2024 semester

The CCAS is the latest in a series of state and UMass initiatives aimed at expanding access to a four-year college degree, which data shows significantly enhances a person’s lifetime income. 

The university has increased annual institutional financial aid by 67% to $395 million since 2015 and has launched an early college program that allows high school students in urban centers to earn UMass course credit while still in high school, thereby saving them tuition costs once they get to college.

The state has recently made community college tuition free for students 25 years or age and older and has expanded the MassGrant+ program by $62 million to close make public higher education more affordable for lower- and middle-income students.