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Governor Baker’s Announcement at QCC is a Game Changer for Community College Students

Contact: Karen Hutner
Office of Institutional Communications
khutner [at] qcc.mass.edu

Release Date: 
9/24/2018

WORCESTER, MA—September 24, 2018— Today at Quinsigamond Community College Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito formally announced the state’s new MassGrant Plus program, a $7.1 million expansion of the existing MassGrant Program developed for part-time, degree-seeking students. This represents the first significant expansion of the state’s financial aid program in more than two decades.

Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito, along with Secretary of Education James Peyser and Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Carlos Santiago, visited the college’s Quinsigamond Engineering, Science, and Technology (QuEST) Center for an informal roundtable discussion with QCC part-time students Jennifer Bemis, Oliver Dogma and Shantel Rutherford, to learn how this program will benefit community college students. Ms. Rutherford and Ms. Bemis discussed the struggles of being single parents, while also working and attending college, while Mr. Dogma shared his challenges of being an immigrant from Ghana and coming to a new country. Each student shared how the MassGrant Plus program would positively impact them.

“I want to start by thanking the students who did a terrific job of representing the point of view of those who are juggling a lot of balls in life to find a way to pursue a degree in higher education,” Gov. Baker said, in a formal program after the roundtable discussion.

The Governor said the MassGrant Plus program was developed based on the recognition that more and more people have other things going on in their lives and there is a need to “be able to straddle more than one world.”

“For us it was important to use this program to not just expand it on traditional terms, but also make it available to part-time students, because it’s very clear to us – if you just look at higher education trends in general – they show us that more and more of the folks that are in higher ed are also working or they have other obligations they need to deal with,” said Baker.

Lt. Governor Polito also added that often students start college only to find they can’t finish due to financial struggles that include needing to buy such staples as food, childcare and fuel.

“By taking advantage of this, it closes that gap,” she said.

At QCC, 67 percent of students attended on a part-time basis during the Spring 2018 semester.

“We thank the Baker-Polito Administration for creating the MASSGrant Plus that will benefit community college students. We know that up to 1,000 of our students, will benefit directly from this program. We have students who are working multiple jobs, and single parents trying to cobble together an education while raising children. This is a game changer,” QCC President Luis Pedraja said.

“We’re pleased QCC is playing big in this space,” Gov. Baker said. “We’re very excited about the potential of this program and we look forward to working on it in the coming years. “

For more information about QCC, contact Josh Martin, Director of Institutional Communications at 508.854.7513 or jmartin [at] qcc.mass.edu

Quinsigamond Community College is the most affordable higher education in Worcester County. As a regional leader in education and workforce development, QCC serves the diverse educational needs of Central Massachusetts by providing affordable, accessible, and high quality programming leading to transfer, career, and lifelong learning.