Each spring semester, a number of students transfer to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, but one student this year had the distinction of entering the university through the Commonwealth Commitment program.
Kyle Deane of Rutland is UMass’ first student to enroll through the program, which was announced by Gov. Charlie Baker in 2016. The Commonwealth Commitment allows students from Massachusetts to significantly lower the cost of a bachelor’s degree by starting their education at a community college, and then transferring to a four-year institution. Students participating in the program save an average of $5,090 off the cost of a baccalaureate degree.
Deane graduated from Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner in December with a liberal arts associate’s degree in history. Through AP class credits and dual enrollment classes, he was able to complete his associate’s degree in a year and one-half. He plans to major in history at UMass with the goal of continuing his studies after graduation by attending law school.
For Deane, the choice to enter the Commonwealth Commitment program was easy. “If you already know about it and you are eligible, then do it,” he said. “Students who are already thinking about pursuing a four-year degree can only gain from the incentives, including the 10 percent refund on tuition and fees. For students who are on the fence about pursuing a four-year degree, let the Commonwealth Commitment be a secondary incentive behind furthering your education.”
The Commonwealth Commitment requires that students begin their education at a community college and finish an associate’s degree in at least two and one-half years, then transfer to one of the state universities or UMass campuses and complete their bachelor’s degree within two more years. The student must maintain full-time, continuous enrollment and a cumulative 3.0 grade point average throughout the program. In return, the student saves money through a freeze on tuition and mandatory fees for all four years and a 10 percent rebate of tuition and mandatory fees at the end of every successfully completed semester.
“We’re excited that Kyle has joined the UMass Amherst community this spring, especially as the first of our Commonwealth Commitment students,” said Jim Roche, vice provost for enrollment management. “The Commonwealth Commitment program makes college even more affordable for Massachusetts students, and we’re thrilled that Kyle was able to take advantage of the benefits offered through the program. We hope many others will follow his example.”