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Mayor Walsh outlines expansion of city’s tuition-free community college program

Mayor Martin J. WalshSuzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Mayor Martin J. Walsh is expanding Boston’s tuition-free program for income-qualified students at community colleges, a program that is financed by contributions from developers who are behind the city’s ongoing building boom.

The Urban College of Boston is now the sixth educational institution to participate in the Tuition-Free Community College Plan, which covers up to three years of tuition bills for participating students who are also residents of the city.

The Urban College of Boston, an independent two-year college that offers associate degrees and certificate programs, has partnered with the BASE, a Roxbury nonprofit that provides educational programming along with coaching for sports as a gateway to college and the professions.


The partnership began in 2016 but will now include participation in the TFCC program, Walsh said at a ceremony on Tuesday.

"This program creates opportunity for students who need it and deserve it,'' Walsh said in prepared remarks. “UCB is a perfect next partner to grow the program” because it provides educational access to immigrants and people holding down full-time jobs along with the “young people at the Base.”

Walsh noted there is a continuing national discussion about the cost of higher education and the need to find better ways to provide access to higher education for low-income men, women, and families.

"This program is about more than free tuition. It’s about having options. It’s about having support,'' Walsh said in his prepared remarks. “These students aren’t statistics to us. They are talented people with great potential. We’re investing time and resources to grow that potential.”

He noted that linkage payments from developers are financing the program, which he said he would like to expand to include all high school students, regardless of income, and that it should be put in place statewide.

"We have all the data to show you that it works,'' he said.


The Tuition-Free Community College Plan is funded by the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development and the Neighborhood Jobs Trust, which, through the Boston Planning & Development Agency’s Article 80 process, collects Linkage fees from large-scale commercial developments in the city to fund job training and education.

Applications for TFCC begin April 1. To be eligible, an applicant must:

- Live in the city.

- Have obtained a high school credential within the past year.

- Have a grade point average of at least 2.0.

- Require no more than three developmental classes.

- Have low or moderate income based on Housing and Urban Development guidelines.

The other educational institutions participating are Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, Bunker Hill Community College, Massasoit Community College, MassBay Community College, and Roxbury Community College.

John R. Ellement can be reached at Follow him @JREbosglobe.