ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
North Shore Community College will offer a “free college” pilot program starting in the fall.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
LYNN — North Shore Community College is launching a program that will help students who don’t qualify for full financial aid go to school for free.
The school is seeking 100 new, full-time students to apply for the North Shore Promise Award pilot program, which will launch in the Fall 2017 semester. The initiative offers free college to prospective students who are being priced out of higher education because they are not poor enough to qualify for full federal and state grant aid but also can’t pay out of pocket.
NSCC will be the first community college in the Northeast to offer a self-funded free college program.
“Commonwealth residents are opting out of pursuing post-secondary education and training as the sticker shock of a college degree and pervasive stories of crippling student debt have many questioning the return on college investment,” NSCC President Patricia A. Gentile said in a statement. “This is especially true for lower and middle income families who are rapidly being priced out of the college-going market. And this is especially bad news for area employers competing for skilled and credentialed workers.”
Gentile said years of analyzing the school’s enrollment led to the realization that there are a significant amount of potential students who, despite the relative affordability of community college, fall into the gap of not believing they can afford an education. Annual tuition and fees for a full-time student total $6,060.
“With a booming economy, these folks are choosing employment but we know that without post-secondary qualifications they are at great risk for unemployment or lack of advancement potential when the economy declines,” Gentile said. “NSCC is committed to making college affordable for even more students to achieve the life-long dream of a college degree with less student debt.”
Applications are being accepted at the school on a first-come, first-serve basis for the first 100 qualified students. Interested potential students need to apply for the award and be accepted by May 1.
To be eligible for the award, potential students must:
- Enroll as a new student with at least 15 credits in an eligible Commonwealth commitment pathway or an eligible NSCC program for the Fall 2017 semester
- Be a Massachusetts resident
- Have a high school GPA of 2.3 or higher
- File a 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) prior to May 1
- Be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant
- Be willing to complete a degree at NSCC in two-and-a-half years or five continuous semesters
- Meet NSCC’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements throughout enrollment
Gentile said the school anticipates that most of those who will take advantage of the program will be first-generation college goers who likely come from more disadvantaged North Shore neighborhoods.
“These are the folks who are having the most difficulty affording the cost of a college degree, yet they compose the largest untapped pool of underdeveloped talent for those future high and middle skilled jobs,” Gentile said.
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte