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Baker-Polito administration awards $2.4 million to boost college access, student success


As nearly 300,000 students return to Massachusetts’ community colleges, state universities and University of Massachusetts campuses this week, the Department of Higher Education (DHE) awarded $2.4 million in competitive grants to increase access to college by students across the Commonwealth.

Twenty-five campuses were awarded grants through the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership (CDEP) to expand the state’s dual enrollment programs, which allow high school students to take college courses and earn credit for free or at a reduced cost. CDEP funding increased from $750,000 in FY15 to $1 million in FY16. The DHE has set a goal of increasing dual enrollment from 2,000 to 3,400 students and is using a new dual enrollment video, outreach to high schools and social media to promote opportunities on campuses.

Also awarded were Vision Project Performance Incentive Fund (VP-PIF) grants to support partnerships aimed at increasing the college-going and college completion rates of under-represented, low-income and first-generation students. Seven campuses were awarded a total of $500,000 in new funding, with continuation grants going to 16 additional campuses to support ongoing projects.

“Increasing collaboration between high schools and higher education is important to making a college education more affordable and creating more opportunities for students across the Commonwealth to succeed in college and their careers,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These awards also present opportunities for college campuses and their regional partners to focus creatively on boosting college completion rates and advancing more students from diverse and underserved populations.”

“Together, our competitive Dual Enrollment and Performance Incentive Fund grant programs help growing numbers of students realize the dream of obtaining a college degree,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago. “It is terrific to see UMass, state university and community college faculty and staff working together and also with local school districts to widen the pathways from high school to college. This is at the core of the mission of public higher education, which is to strengthen Massachusetts families, communities and industries by educating our future citizenry and skilled workforce.”

Among the 25 CDEP grant recipients:

Berkshire Community College, which plans to pilot a new dual enrollment program for at-risk students at two Berkshire County high schools, and to increase the overall number of students served in Berkshire County by 15 percent.

Salem State University, which will expand its partnerships with multiple North Shore high schools, offering courses in both high school classrooms and on its campus. Salem State has set a goal to raise the course completion rate of dual enrollment program participants from 84 percent last spring to 92 percent this fall.

Springfield Technical Community College, which will support 200 students with CDEP funding, at least half of whom will be African American and Latino students.

University of Massachusetts Lowell, which will offer courses for students at Lowell High School, targeting male students who would be the first in their families to attend college. Students will make at least two visits to campus, and be invited to take part in a variety of social and sporting events.

Massasoit Community College, which plans to give priority to dual enrollment students interested in high-demand Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

Bristol Community College, Bunker Hill Community College, Cape Cod Community College, Fitchburg State University, Framingham State University, Greenfield Community College, Holyoke Community College, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, MassBay Community College, Middlesex Community College, Mount Wachusett Community College, North Shore Community College, Northern Essex Community College, Quinsigamond Community College, Roxbury Community College, Westfield State University, Worcester State University, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth also received FY16 CDEP grants.

For more information on DHE strategic initiatives to boost college awareness and readiness, please visit