The cost of attending college in Massachusetts continues to rise, and it’s those costs that are having many potential students rethinking the plan to attend a two-year or four-year institution after finishing high school. They don’t want to end up saddled with debt for years or even decades after graduation, or have to begin attending the school only for tuition and fees to rise during their time there to the point where they can no longer afford to continue earning their degree.

So as high school seniors across the SouthCoast are planning their future after graduation, it’s worth checking out a program that many people don’t even know exists, but that can save you significant expense in earning both an associates and bachelor’s degree.

It’s called Commonwealth Commitment, and really is a commitment by both the student, committing to earn their degree in a timely fashion and while maintaining a solid GPA, and by the Commonwealth in giving back a portion of tuition and keeping costs locked in throughout a student’s tenure.

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The plan is known as “A2B” and is under the umbrella of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s MassTransfer program.

Here’s how it works: a student must commit to starting their higher learning at one of Massachusetts’ 15 community colleges, and earn their associate degree within two and a half years. From there, they transfer to a state university or a UMass campus, and complete their bachelor’s degree within two more years. All the while, they must maintain full-time, continuous enrollment and a cumulative GPA of 3.00. They must also earn 12 credits at the community college and 14 at the state university.

In turn, the student gets a freeze on all tuition and mandatory fees at the level at which they enter the program, and they will receive a 10 percent rebate off tuition and mandatory fees that is payable to them at the end of every successfully completed semester.

There are other benefits, too, such as guaranteed admission (space permitting in the major and college of their choice), a guaranteed transfer of credits, and they can earn additional MassTransfer Tuition Credit when entering the bachelor’s program. For example, for UMass Dartmouth, that was a credit of $1,417 in the 2020-21 academic year.

Yet the program can reap even more benefits for students; according to the program’s website, Commonwealth Commitment students who earn enough credits in the community college before transferring to finish their bachelor’s degree can save an average of 40 percent on the cost of their degree.

It’s available for a number of majors, including those in the STEM fields like Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Nursing, Mathematics and Physics, just to name a few.

It’s also available in the Humanities fields such as Communication and Media Studies, Criminal Justice, Economics, English, History, Human Services/Social Work, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology.

Business studies including Emergency Management and International Maritime Business are included, as well as Education programs like Art Education and Early Childhood Education.

More interested in Art and Design? Architecture, Dance, Fashion Design, Film and Video, Graphic Design, Music, Photography, Theater and more are also included.

Take a look at how much some of the local alternatives will run you, and think about whether or not Commonwealth Commitment is the best thing for your education. If so, you can start the process here.

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