A tax on millionaires might soon pay for universal free community college in Massachusetts

microsoft, a tax on millionaires might soon pay for universal free community college in massachusetts

Massachusetts proposed state budget includes plans for free community college. Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

  • The Massachusetts Senate approved a $58 billion budget that includes free community college.
  • The budget sets aside $75.5 million to pay for tuition and stipends for anyone.
  • The state's new tax on millionaires would fund the universal free community college program.

The Massachusetts State Senate approved a nearly $58 billion state budget that guarantees universal free community college for state residents.

And it'll all be paid for by the state's millionaire residents.

In 2022, Massachusetts placed a 4% tax on residents earning $1 million or more a year. In its last fiscal budget, the state set aside $1 billion — collected through the tax — to provide free school lunches to all children in public schools.

The 2025 budget would fund MassEducate, a state-sponsored program that will cover the cost of community college tuition and fees, all paid for by the state's tax on millionaires. The budget now goes to the state House of Representatives, which has to vote before the fiscal year begins in July.

If passed, MassEducate will invest $75.5 million of state money to cover tuition and fees.

President Joe Biden proposed a plan for free community college nationally in his fiscal 2025 budget. There are currently 20 states that offer tuition-free community college education to residents.

State Sen. Michael J. Rodrigues, chair of the Senate's Ways and Means Committee, said the community college program will "bolster our educated workforce and lay the foundation for generations to come."

"Tuition-free Community College impacts individuals most in need and who otherwise would not be afforded this opportunity," Rodrigues said in a statement. "It will greatly help to keep our workforce graduates stand ready to meet the challenges of a global economy."

The state's community college program will offer additional assistance to low-income students. The program will also offer stipends of up to $1,200 for books, supplies, and other costs to students who make 125% or less of the state's median income, according to a statement announcing the program.

The initiative also includes a $10 million "student persistence fund" that aims to help community college students with financial struggles so great they jeopardize their studies.

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