Finding Higher Education Affordability

Need help with how to finance your education after high school? Check out the many game changing options available to residents of Massachusetts.  

4-Year Public Institution – apply to and receive an acceptance to attend any of the 4 UMASS Universities or 16 State Universities and pay in-state tuition, fees, and housing.

Mass Transfer Program – begin and complete an associate’s degree at any of the 15 Community Colleges and be eligible for reduced tuition and fees when transferring to obtain your four-year degree at one of the state’s 20 public colleges and universities.

Community College – enroll at any of the 15 colleges to boost your academic profile and obtain additional credentials or the business skills to help run your business.

MassReconnect – individuals 25+ a chance to start or complete a degree or gain valuable credentials at a reduced cost when enrolling in one of the 15 community colleges across the state.- learn more

MassGrant  – valuable financial aid awarded to eligible MA residents enrolled full-time (12 credits) at any approved public, private, certificate, associate, or bachelor degree-granting institutions in Massachusetts. Awards may vary based on a student/family’s demonstrated need calculated when completing and filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Mass Grant Plusfinancial aid awarded to eligible MA residents enrolled full-time (12 credits) OR part-time at a public college or university offering a certificate, associate, or bachelor degree-granting program. Awards may vary based on a student/family’s demonstrated need calculated when completing and filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

MassGrant Plus Extension –the program provides free tuition and fees to MA residents who qualify under the Federal Pell Grant Program. The MassGrant Plus Extension program will now cover a student/family’s demonstrated need, the Student Aid Index (SAI). Provisions of the program also include a $1200 award for books and supplies. The program does not cover housing or living expenses.

In addition, middle-income students enrolled full-time (12 credits) with family incomes from $73,000 to $100,000 will now be eligible for reduced out-of-pocket tuition and fees to 50%.

To qualify for many of these valuable resources, students and their families MUST complete and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA Application will be available on December 31, 2023. Download the 2024-2025 Financial Aid Checklist today to take steps to be ready to file FSAFA!!

High School Completers –  under the guidelines of the MA “High School Completers” Program, eligible non-US citizens and undocumented students can receive in-state tuition rates and MA state financial aid benefits. Eligible students must complete the Student Application and Affidavit Form and the MA Student Financial Aid (MASFA) Form. Student who are covered under this benefit are not eligible for traditional need-based financial aid from the US Department of Education.

These programs are game changers for students and families residing in Massachusetts. Regardless of education path and career, every student and family should investigate the wealth of resources available here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including scholarships, financial aid, and tuition assistance. Learn More

These programs are game changers for students and families residing in Massachusetts. Regardless of education path and career, every student and family should investigate the wealth of resources, including Scholarships, financial aid, and tuition assistance available here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Learn More

Individuals and families in other states should check with the agency overseeing Higher Education or Post-Secondary tuition assistance, scholarships, and financial aid resources. Many states have similar programs for their residents.

Have a questions on how to make a higher education work for you.. call.  Were here to help you navigate the funding, finding, apply and enrolling!

Article Updated 1.11.2024

Education & Career Pathways After High School

Originally published 2021 – Revised 2023

What Lies Ahead After High School?

Many high school students, parents, and young adults ponder this question. What direction should I take? Follow everyone or go on a different path? Finding the right one can be the key to future financial and personal success. Thankfully, there are many choices.

Attending College right out of high school has historically been the path everyone has been encouraged to follow. The Higher Education Act of 1965 was a catalyst in moving a country to adopt the mindset. The expansion of student financial aid programming, the strengthening of veterans’ benefits, and the greater need for professional workers all came with the signature of President Johnson.

In 2023, new approaches to education and careers after high school are available. Today, conversations are shifting to embrace the needs of individuals and workforce needs. Affordability in higher education, gaps in our skilled workforce,  and the critical importance of supporting young minds who need a pause after twelve years are just a few of the pressing reasons.

Beginning as early as middle school, we must shift the narrative to the importance of introducing to young minds different roles, jobs, and professions for Today and Tomorrow. Parents must be encouraged to develop their students’ authentic educational and personal abilities and stop chasing prestige and vanity. Educators and thought leaders need to step back from the buzz of STEM and STEAM, which often forces students into boxes and fuels the competitiveness of higher education. Local, statewide, and national government leaders need to re-evaluate funding allocation. Businesses that generate enormous profits at the risk of students’ mental well-being need to recalibrate their so-called mission. Let’s celebrate lifelong learning as a catalyst for social and economic success.

Which Path Will Be Yours?

High school to 4-year College – yes, continuing the traditional route designed by our educational system is the path for 80% of a graduating class. Students work in high school, developing a range of academic proficiency and personal character to be ready. Meeting the demands of this path can be challenging, emotional, and competitive. For 20% who feel the social need to follow the herd, ultimately leaving after their first semester or year, we must proactively support and encourage different paths.

Technical to Skilled – students enrolled are traditionally on a skilled or specialized/ trade career path. Currently, qualified professionals are aging out of the workforce, so where will the next plumber, electrician, HVAC, and others come from to cover continued consumer and business demands? The absence of trained, skilled professionals will slow the economy and increase service costs. Apprenticeships and certification programs after high school allow individuals to pursue their interests to secure financially and personally successful careers.

Associates to Bachelors offers students who aspire to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree but need time to hit their academic and personal stride can succeed through a 2+2 program. Beginning at a community college can boost a student’s academic and personal readiness and provide a very affordable path to a four-year degree. Students start at Community College full-time and transfer to a four-year public or private institution upon completion.

Work, Earn, and Learn for many individuals allows them to pause, enter the workforce, earn a little, and get a feel for the future. The delay can be to start their career and pursue a college degree, associate, or bachelor’s degree. Joining a business and transitioning one’s technical and interpersonal skills can be a perfect way to benefit from employer-based tuition assistance programs.

 Military is for a select group of men or women willing to commit to serving their country in one of the many branches of the Armed Services. This calling sometimes begins as a member of the JROTC program via a military academy or post-high school. Individuals select from various Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), including communications, technology, cyber security, defense, engineering, infantry, and special operations.

A Gap Year today is no longer the idea of pack backing nationwide. Students who take a break can pursue volunteerism, job training, internships, or externships to explore and gain from different learning experiences. These include programs like Year Up and the Gloucester Biotechnology Academy.

Exploring and analyzing the various paths should be guided by an individual’s education to a career plan. A plan that considers all life-long learning opportunities now and in the future, financially affordable and unique to a student and their family.

As the parents of four, each who took a different path,  I understand how emotional and daunting advising one’s student can be. guiding and advising our children can be. Have questions, need to compare notes, schedule a time to talk.


PAYING FOR COLLEGE – What’s the Secret??

We can all agree the pathway to education after high school can be expensive. One of the most significant financial investments an individual and family will make in their lifetime. Right behind purchasing our first home, saving for retirement, and raising a family. I know; I am the parent of four. The number #1 question I am asked is, can a student or family finance this critical life-changing event?

The answer is all about individualized, realistic goals and planning. Best for your student and family now and in the future. It is about expectations based on your student’s authentic academic and personal profile and the family’s financial capabilities. My dad, an educator, teacher, and early architect of the federal financial aid program of the ’70s, is still chirping in my ear, “Education is a lifelong exercise.” We forget to coach our kids as such, and as parents, we think poorly of our parental skills if we are not keeping up with what we hear in the grocery line or read on social media. Here are eleven of my favorite parent secrets.

Before We Leave High School

  • Secret #1 – Colleges and universities lose up to 20% of first-year students; many do not graduate due to readiness and ability to pay. If your student does not want to go to college or needs more time, it is best to hit the pause button and start when ready.
  • Secret #2 – If going in that direction, know how you will pay before starting the search process. Yes, it will be a rough estimate, but we do not buy our first home, a car, or even a new sofa until we have some concept of the cost. Getting in but not being able to pay can be a financial risk. Learn your family’s financial obligation early and always apply for financial aid.
  • Secret # 3 – It is not always about our financial resources, money in the bank, income, or even eligibility for financial aid. If a four-year traditional undergraduate degree is the path ahead, let us ensure it is at the right school, for the right reason, and at the right investment. There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the US and Canada, 250 in New England alone, which means there is a dream school for every student—search based on your student’s authentic GPA, not prestige.
  • Secret #4 – pursuing a skilled professional career in the trades, financial services, retail, or hospitality industry can offer personal and financial fulfillment. Many require apprenticeships, OJT, or an associate’s degree to enter and should not be overlooked for the right individual.

While We’re Enrolled

  • Secret #5 – ask for more tuition assistance through scholarships and need-based financial aid. If the college a student attends loses one student after the first year, they may get a transfer student but could have an empty seat for three years. That is lost revenue. They can’t afford to lose another!
  • Secret #6 – keep searching for scholarships. Most students and families do not invest enough time and energy searching before the 1st year, never mind after enrollment. If you read the eligibility criteria for most private external scholarships, they are available to “high school seniors, enrolling AND returning sophomore, juniors, and seniors.” Keep searching and applying.
  • Secret #7 – start lining up internships, paid part-time research, and coop positions (work while enrolled) at the end of the sophomore year of college. Opportunities can turn into offers for employment before graduation and valuable resources while enrolled.
  • Secret #8 – graduate on time. It is too expensive to remain in college beyond your anticipated grad date: two years for community college and four years for traditional.

After College

  • Secret # 9 – if you have private education loans, pay them down aggressively. Interest rates are generally higher than the Federal Direct Student Loans, and they carry limited repayment benefits. Refinance them if you need to and can.
  • Secret # 10 – take advantage of all benefits offered through the Federal Direct Student Loan Program, including income-driven repayment terms and public services loan forgiveness.
  • Secret # 11 asks your employer for help with loan repayment obligations. Recent changes allow employers to use traditional employee tuition reimbursement benefits to help pay down educational loans. Inquire with HR.

For more information on the contents of this article, questions or inquiries to support your students and family, contact us to schedule a conversation.- 617-240-7350 or