Boston's high school senior class of 2017 just got the best graduation gift: the possibility of free college tuition.
Now that's better than a fountain pen.
A new pilot program, dubbed the Boston Bridge, will provide free college tuition and fees for low-income students living in Boston. It's open to 2017 graduates of Boston public, charter and parochial schools.
To qualify, students must meet federal Pell grant income standards and enroll full-time at one of three community colleges: Bunker Hill, Roxbury or Mass Bay.
After completing their associate's degree at one of these schools within two-and-a-half years, students can then transfer to a Massachusetts public college or university, where their tuition and mandatory fees will continue to be covered, after taking into account federal Pell grants. Room and board fees will not be covered by the program.
"College affordability too often serves as a barrier for students in the Commonwealth seeking to complete a degree, and this program is intended to provide more opportunities for a quality education," said Governor Charlie Baker in a statement.
This initiative builds on two of the state's already existing college affordability programs: Boston's Tuition Free Community College program and the Commonwealth Commitment. Both launched in the spring of 2016 and will remain in place.
With student loan debt continuing to climb, this news is music to our ears. And free tuition is growing in popularity: Boston joins the ranks of New York, Tennessee, Oregon, Minnesota, San Francisco and Rhode Island, who all offer their own form of college affordability programs. We give this trend an A+!