According to Richard Doherty, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM), Massachusetts is the only state in the country with more students in private schools than in public institutions. And he says one of the main reasons so many students in Boston and other areas of Massachusetts attend private colleges is because of the millions of dollars of financial aid available directly from the schools to help cover costs.
"Students should be aware of the real cost of attending a college," he said. "Tuition or sticker price is not the whole story, and thanks to institutional aid available, a student could attend a private college more cheaply than a public school in many cases."
Many students take advantage of the millions in aid given directly by private colleges in the Boston area.
The state of Massachusetts itself also provides aid to public and private school students through a variety of grant and loan repayment programs. The Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) advises the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education about financial aid policy issues and is primarily responsible for the management and oversight of all state-funded financial aid programs. Grants and scholarships they manage include:
- Commonwealth Covenant Fund
A loan repayment plan for students attending public colleges who intend to enter careers in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).
- Foster Child Grant
Provides grants of up to $6000 annually for foster children to attend any public or private college or university in the U.S.
The MASSGrant program provides need-based financial aid to undergraduate students who live in Massachusetts, and whose families have an expected financial contribution (EFC) under $4617.
- Massachusetts Gilbert Matching Student Grant
The Gilbert Grant makes funds available to participating Massachusetts' institutions of higher education and schools of nursing.
- Massachusetts Cash Grant
The Cash Grant provides money for fees and other charges at public universities not covered in the Need-Based Tuition Waiver Program.
- Massachusetts Part-Time Grant
This grant is useful for adult students and other students who cannot afford to attend school full-time. Awards range from $200 to a maximum dependent on the school. Only undergraduate or certificate part-time students are eligible.
- Massachusetts Public Service Grant
Provides money for the widow, widower, or child of a public servant (firefighter, police officer, corrections officer, or soldier) in Massachusetts who is killed or missing in the line of public service duty.
- Paraprofessional Teacher Preparation Grant
To fund paraprofessionals currently employed in Massachusetts public schools, but who wish to further their education and become teachers.
- Educational Rewards Grant
A last-resort fund to help dislocated or incumbent low-income workers receive education to transition into jobs in certain high-demand occupations.