Massachusetts has now expanded eligibility for in-state tuition to students who have attended Massachusetts high schools for at least three years and earned a Massachusetts diploma, an expansion which will ensure that many non-U.S. citizens are able to access in-state tuition and financial aid rates at public higher education institutions in the Commonwealth.
September 27, 2023—Upon passage of the Commonwealth’s “High School Completers” Tuition Equity Law on July 1, Massachusetts has expanded access to in-state tuition rates, as well as to state financial aid programming, for all students who have attended high school in the Commonwealth for at least three (3) years, obtained a high school diploma or its equivalent in Massachusetts, and met certain other documentation requirements. While students across the Commonwealth will benefit from this expanded access to affordable higher education, the Tuition Equity Law notably carves a pathway to in-state tuition rates and state financial aid for certain non-US citizen students, including undocumented students, who have attended high school in Massachusetts for at least three (3) years and earned a high school diploma (or the equivalent) in the Commonwealth.
Celebrating the new law at Northern Essex Community College on August 22, Governor Healey shared, “This is a great day for our state. This is a big step forward for students who have grown up here, worked here, and followed their dreams here in Massachusetts. It’s what is fair and what is right. They’re going to continue their journey on the same terms as their peers.”
At the same event, Commissioner Ortega shared:
The Department has issued Implementation Procedures and a single, uniform Student Application and Affidavit form for campus administrators to use for intake and assessment of whether students are eligible for the in-state tuition rate and state financial aid as a “High School Completer” under the new Tuition Equity law. In January 2024, the Department of Higher Education also launched the Massachusetts Application for State Financial Aid (MASFA). This form allows students who are not able to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) due to their immigration status a way to apply for need-based state financial aid. These forms will be used by institutions to assess student eligibility for in-state tuition and non-need based financial aid (Student Application and Affidavit), as well as need-based state financial aid (MASFA).
Students who otherwise meet the three-year attendance and degree-equivalent requirement(s) may satisfy documentation requirements by submitting either a Social Security or Taxpayer ID number, or an Affidavit affirming that the student will apply for citizenship if and when the student becomes eligible to do so under federal law.
The Department has rolled out this new and exciting initiative in phases.
Upon the completion and submission of the uniform Student Application and Affidavit form students assessed to be eligible for “high school completer” status will be deemed immediately eligible for:
Currently enrolled or newly admitted students who currently do not qualify for in-state tuition rates but believe they may now qualify as “High School Completers” under the Tuition Equity Law should contact their institution’s financial aid office and complete the application process. Students reassessed as eligible “High School Completers” during the 2023-2024 academic year will be eligible to have their accounts credited or will be reimbursed as of July 1, 2023 for eligible costs.
Applying for need-based state financial aid as a “High School Completer” is a two-step process:
Students that submit the Student Application and Affidavit form (Step 1) will be assessed for eligibility by their institution. Students who are assessed to be eligible for “high school completer” status by their institution will be eligible to be considered for need-based aid upon completing and submitting the Massachusetts Application for State Financial Aid (MASFA) (Step 2). The MASFA is the state-approved form equivalent to the FAFSA and will be used by the student’s institution to determine their eligibility for need-based financial aid. After a student has completed both Steps 1 and 2, their institution will be able to determine the student’s eligibility for in-state tuition and non-need based financial aid, as well as need-based financial aid.
Fill out the free 2023-2024 MASFA
Completing the MASFA does not guarantee access to state financial aid, but it makes all students in Massachusetts eligible for consideration under the same terms. Students completing the MASFA with High School Completer Status (Step 2) must also complete the above affidavit (Step 1) with their college or university if they have not already.
Currently enrolled or newly admitted students reassessed as eligible for a state financial aid program as High School Completers during the 2023-2024 academic year will be eligible to have their accounts credited or will be reimbursed as of July 1, 2023 for eligible costs.
The recently released MASFA is for the current 2023-2024 academic year and applies to students seeking need-based state financial aid from any public or private institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. Students who are enrolled in the current 2023-2024 academic year should complete the MASFA and may be eligible to have their accounts credited back to July 1, 2023. Students enrolling for spring 2024 who wish to be considered for need-based financial aid should also complete this form.
An updated MASFA for the 2024-2025 academic year is scheduled to be available in spring 2024.
For further assistance, contact Christine Williams, Assistant Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs & Strategic Initiatives, and Christopher Grimaldi, Assistant General Counsel, at this dedicated email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For questions about the MASFA or the Department’s state financial assistance programs please contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance at 617-391-6070 or email@example.com.
Effective July 1, 2023, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts created a pathway to expand access to in-state tuition as well as state financial aid. This law created an additional pathway for students, including some non-U.S. citizens, to be eligible for in-state tuition. This new way to be eligible for in-state tuition at Massachusetts public colleges and universities and to be eligible to be considered for Massachusetts financial aid will be in addition to the existing ways for a student to establish eligibility for in-state tuition rates.
To qualify for in-state tuition rate with “High School Completer” status, which was a new category created by the tuition equity law, a student has to have attended at least three years at high school in Massachusetts and have graduated from high school in Massachusetts or have received the equivalent of a high school diploma (for example, a GED or HiSet) in Massachusetts.
Additional requirements to qualify for in-state tuition as a High School Completer under the Tuition Equity provision are:
Students can also be eligible for in-state status via the primary traditional pathway: establishing US citizenship, lawful immigrant status, or lawful permanent resident status, satisfying the residential requirement, and showing an intention to stay in Massachusetts. This pathway for in-state tuition can be found here. The Tuition Equity provision and High School Completer status is an additional way a student can establish in-state tuition eligibility.
Student seeking access to the in-state tuition rate with “High School Completer” status must apply using the MA Department of Higher Education Tuition Equity Eligibility Form and Affidavit for High School Completers and submit that document to the institution where they are or intend to be enrolled. Each Massachusetts public college and university is responsible for determining the tuition status for its respective students, so the process for submitting the application will be organized on a students’ campus.
Any student meeting the requirements may apply for eligibility for in-state tuition through High School Completer status, including students who are not U.S. citizens.
In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1947 (FERPA) a student’s personally identifiable information is protected from being shared with third parties. Institutions are expected to refrain from unnecessarily obtaining information about a student’s immigration or citizenship status without a reason, and only to the extent needed to make tuition and financial aid eligibility determinations. Institutions should also provide training to all faculty and staff on privacy policies.
The new provision became law as of July 1, 2023 and can be used for any term that begins after that date. Students may use the application attached to apply now to their institution for the in-state tuition rate, which, if eligible, will be applied retroactively and will result in a credit or reimbursement for the difference in rate as of that date. The law cannot be used to change tuition status for any term beginning prior to July 1, 2023.
Yes. Each college has a process called reclassification, which is how students file a request to be changed from out-of-state to in-state status. A student can submit the form to be eligible for High School Completer status and in-state eligibility. Note that any reclassification will only be effective as of July 1, 2023. Beginning in the 2024-2025 academic year and beyond, retroactive reclassifications for Massachusetts state financial aid decisions are limited to the beginning of the semester during which the institution makes the final decision to reclassify the student. Information on the traditional pathway for in-state tuition can be found here. A link to the illustrative list of documents establishing lawful immigration status can be found here, and is being reviewed for potential expansion in light of federal immigration law changes.
The student is required to complete at least three years of high school (9th-12th grade) in Massachusetts. Any combination of three years of enrollment is acceptable. The school may be public or private but must be physically located within Massachusetts. A student must also have graduated from high school or have received the equivalent of a high school diploma (like a GED).
No. Under this provision, the parent’s legal status is completely immaterial. The student’s immigration status also is largely immaterial except that the provision is not available to students with certain immigration statuses referenced in the law, such as diplomatic officials and those only authorized to work or visit the US on a short term temporary basis. Please see the implementation procedures for more detail.
The application form and affidavit should be submitted to the institution where the student is applying/admitted and/or enrolled.
No, not at this time. The Tuition Equity law and the implementation procedures currently do not have a duration of residency requirement.
No. “High School Completer” status and the Tuition Equity Law does not change Federal requirements for Federal forms of financial aid (for example Pell Grants, Direct Loans, etc).
A student can apply to their campus immediately using the form for a determination on in-state tuition eligibility and for consideration for non-need-based financial aid. Students will be informed when a state financial aid application is available to be considered for need-based financial aid. That application will be available by January 2024.
Students are encouraged to approach their institution to determine an appeals process. Students who remain aggrieved after raising the issue with their institution may also submit their concerns via the DHE compliant process, detailed here.
Students need not supply a physical SSN card, they need merely supply the number. Any validly issued SSN will suffice, including an unrestricted, work-restricted, or nonwork purpose SSN.
Evidence reflecting issuance of an ITIN should include any correspondence to that effect from the IRS or any tax return filed with the ITIN.
Students may submit any of the following to show compliance with the Selective Service Registration requirement:
A student need only demonstrate that they have registered for selective service if they are required (almost all male US citizens and male immigrants aged 18-25). Such students need only show receipt of the registration submission made at any US post office and does not require a return acknowledgement from the Selective Service System. A copy of the submission receipt is sufficient.
Yes, High School Completer status is available to any student who has completed three years at a Massachusetts high school and received a high school diploma or equivalent in Massachusetts. The tuition equity law does not exclude private high schools.
Yes, subject to meeting the eligibility requirement of each financial aid program. If a student is determined eligible for in-state tuition with “High School Completer” status, they may be eligible for consideration for some Massachusetts financial aid programs. This eligibility for consideration for financial aid does not guarantee access to financial aid. High School Completer status will allow a student to be considered for state-funded financial assistance on the same terms as other individuals. That means that students must meet the eligibility criteria for each financial aid program for which the student is seeking access.
Massachusetts state financial aid programs can be accessed here.
Once determined to be eligible for High School Completer status, the student is eligible for all state financial aid programs administered by the Department, on the same terms as other individuals.
Once determined to be eligible for “High School Completer” status, the student will be eligible for all state financial aid programs administered by the department provided:
Additional Financial Aid information can be found here.
Students can immediately submit their application and affidavit for an eligibility determination regarding in-state tuition and for all non-need-based financial aid programs. Once a new state financial aid application is developed for all need-based aid, students will be informed of that application and able to apply for consideration under those financial aid programs.
In the case of in-state tuition as well as state financial aid, student eligibility, if approved, will be retroactive to July 1, 2023.
More specifically, in-state tuition eligibility will be determined immediately, but there will be a phased approach to rolling out state financial aid programs for students with High School completer status.
In Phase I, students determined eligible for MA state financial aid will be immediately eligible for consideration for all non-need-based, Department administered state financial aid programs, including all non-need-based tuition waivers.
In Phase II, for all Massachusetts state financial aid programs that are need-based and therefore require the filing of a FAFSA, or a state-approved equivalent form, the Department will be rolling out eligibility rules and requirements throughout FY2024 (Academic year 2023-2024), with the goal that all criteria for each program will be finalized by [January 1, 2024].
Note that if a student has concerns or disagreement about a state financial aid determination, they may submit their concerns via the DHE compliant process, found here.
Yes. We know that, for example, certain TPS holders may be ineligible for federal aid, but would be eligible for in state tuition.
Yes, any student eligible under the new law may apply for both in-state tuition and will be eligible for consideration for state financial aid programs for which they otherwise qualify.
Students must have completed three years of high school in Massachusetts. (And have graduated from a MA high school or have a MA high school degree equivalent). The three years of high school attendance do not need to be consecutive but may have occurred at any time