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Mayor Walsh announces Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology to join Boston's Tuition-Free Community College program

Mar 20, 2019

Boston's Tuition-Free Community College program to expand to first-ever private college

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT) will be the first private college to participate in Boston's Tuition-Free Community College Plan. Launched by Mayor Walsh in 2016, Boston's Tuition-Free Community College (TFCC) program makes college more affordable for Boston residents who have earned their high school credential. BFIT joins Roxbury Community College, Bunker Hill Community College, and MassBay Community College as a participant in the program. Students enrolled through the program have an average graduation rate of 70 percent over three years, significantly higher than national averages.

"BFIT's mission aligns with our commitment to providing a path to the middle class for Boston's young people," said Mayor Walsh. "I am pleased to announce that we are adding BFIT to the list of colleges participating in our Tuition-Free Community College Plan, providing more opportunities for Boston's students to access higher education. When everyone has a chance to move forward, Boston succeeds."

BFIT is a Boston-based nonprofit technical college dedicated to meeting the Massachusetts skills shortage by training and educating Greater Boston's diverse, urban youth for well-paying jobs in today's high demand industries. Qualified incoming BFIT students will be able to participate in the program beginning in Fall 2019. More than 90 percent of BFIT students graduate with either a well-paying job or with plans to pursue advanced higher education.

Currently, 316 students are attending the three participating community colleges through the program. In the most recent cohort, 84.5 percent of TFCC students identify as African American or Hispanic/Latino.

Run by the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (OWD), TFCC matches students with coaches from Success Boston to help them navigate the challenges of higher education. Through this two-fold approach—both financial and interpersonal support—the plan aims to help more Boston students afford, attend, and complete college. TFCC is funded through the Neighborhood Jobs Trust, which collects linkage fees from large-scale commercial developments in the city.

"The Tuition-Free Community College Plan will make the dream of a college diploma attainable for many more deserving students who otherwise would not be able to afford it," says BFIT President Anthony Benoit. "The program's financial support will allow more of Boston's young people to earn a BFIT degree and qualify for rewarding careers, uplifting themselves, their families, and their communities."

Students enrolling in the Tuition-Free Community College Plan must be Boston residents who have graduated from a high school in Boston, graduated from high school as a METCO student or earned their HiSET or GED. The students must also be eligible for a Pell Grant as determined by the U.S. Department of Education and meet HUD guidelines for having a low to moderate household income.

Jeremiah E Burke High School senior Ianna Montila is taking free college classes through BFIT's Advanced Standing Associates Program (ASAP). She is looking forward to the financial help the new program can provide when she starts going to BFIT full-time in the fall. "College is really expensive," said Montila. "I was worried that I wouldn't be able to finish my degree with ASAP, but this opportunity would take a burden off my shoulders. I won't have to feel like I need to work to meet the monthly bill for this class or that class." Montila hopes to earn her associate degree in Biomedical Engineering Technology in 2020.

Included in Mayor Walsh's 2019 legislative agenda is "An Act Establishing Tuition Free Community College in Massachusetts (House Bill 1245)," filed by Representative Chynah Tyler. The legislation would authorize a waiver of tuition and mandatory fees for community college courses for certain low income and low- and moderate- income students. In addition, the Mayor's legislative agenda includes a proposal that would allow the City of Boston to adjust the Linkage Program, which is used to fund TFCC as well as other workforce training programs.

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