The Massachusetts Application for State Financial Aid (MASFA) allows undocumented students to apply for state need-based financial aid for the first time
Apply at mass.edu/MASFA
BOSTON — Press Release – Today, the Healey-Driscoll Administration took a significant step forward in expanding access to higher education for all Massachusetts residents by launching the new Massachusetts Application for State Financial Aid (MASFA). The Department of Higher Education released the form on their website today, which will allow currently-enrolled undocumented college students in Massachusetts to apply for state need-based financial aid for the first time. Students can access the application at mass.edu/MASFA.
The MASFA is an alternative form that provides students who cannot complete the Free Application for State Financial Aid (FAFSA) due to their immigration status a way to apply for state need-based financial aid. The application launch follows the August 2023 passage of Massachusetts’ Tuition Equity Law, which allows students who have completed at least three years of high school in Massachusetts and received a high school diploma or its equivalent in the Commonwealth to access in-state tuition and be eligible for financial aid, regardless of immigration status.
Eligible students began receiving the in-state tuition rate in Fall 2023. The MASFA released today is for additional need-based financial aid opportunities. It is based on the FAFSA for the 2023-2024 academic year and should be completed by students who are beginning college in Spring 2024 or were enrolled in the Fall 2023 semester and may qualify for financial aid. To receive financial aid for the 2023-2024 school year, students are encouraged to apply by May 1, and no later than June 30, 2024.
Students who apply for need-based state financial aid under the new “High School Comleter” pathway created by the Tuition Equity Law must meet the existing eligibility criteria for each financial aid program for which they are seeking access.
“Quality higher education should be accessible to all Massachusetts high school graduates,” said Governor Healey. “Students who have long been part of our communities in Massachusetts should be eligible for the historic financial aid programs we have launched this year, and they should have every opportunity to grow their careers and be part of building our state’s workforce. We’re grateful for the Legislature for their partnership in passing this historic policy, and we’re proud to be launching this application so that students can start accessing financial aid.”
“This has been a banner year for educational access in Massachusetts, following the passage of MassReconnect, MASSGrant Plus Expansion, and Tuition Equity,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “The MASFA will open doors to need based financial aid for students looking to attend any public or private Massachusetts college or university.”
“Tuition equity is about giving students who have long called Massachusetts home equal access to higher education,” said Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler. “With the MASFA form providing access to millions of dollars in need-based financial aid, we will be able to give the greatest number of students access to the life changing opportunities that our institutions of higher education offer here in the Commonwealth.”
“The Department of Higher Education is committed to increasing socioeconomic mobility for all residents of Massachusetts, particularly those who have historically been underserved and underrepresented in higher education,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Noe Ortega. “The MASFA is a key tool for advancing equitable access to the Commonwealth’s many great colleges and universities.”
“Ensuring that all Massachusetts residents, regardless of immigration status, have access to the Commonwealth’s higher education system is critical not just for those students, but for the betterment of Massachusetts,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “I want to thank my colleagues in the House and our partners in the Senate for making this initiative possible, as well as the Healey-Driscoll Administration for working to implement it and for their support.”
“Tuition equity is about giving every high schooler in Massachusetts who wants to go to college the same ability to do so, regardless of who they are or where they are from,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “I’m thrilled to see the Executive Office of Education take this important step in implementing what the Legislature included in the budget, and break down a major barrier for young people whose families have settled in our state.”
“The Healey-Driscoll Administration’s launch of the MASFA is groundbreaking, helping to provide state need-based financial aid for undocumented immigrants who aspire to higher education,” said Representative David Rogers (D-Cambridge), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education. “This initiative will continue the Commonwealth’s commitment to increased access to the life-changing opportunities within our higher education system.”
“Every student should have the same access to higher education in Massachusetts,” said Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn). “The launch of this tool is another significant step forward, ensuring that our commitment to equal access is transformed into actionable opportunities. By breaking down barriers and extending financial aid to these students, we are not only shaping individual futures but also contributing to the collective prosperity of Massachusetts.”
“As a first-generation, Cabo-Verdean American whose parents immigrated to Boston with nothing but hope in their hearts and a pair of working hands, I too come from a mixed status family, and access to state financial aid for all eligible students in the Commonwealth, regardless of immigration status, will be a lever of opportunity that shapes a generation,” said Senator Liz Miranda (D-Boston). “This opportunity will enable thousands of talented, hard-working individuals to build a life of meaning and purpose here in the Commonwealth, embracing the very best of who we are as a state.”
“On behalf of the state’s 15 community colleges, we are excited to celebrate the launch of the MASFA,” said Jim Vander Hooven, president of Mount Wachusett Community College and chair of the Community College Council of Presidents. “The new tuition equity law is already making a significant positive impact on our students, and we’re thrilled that the MASFA will streamline access to state aid for eligible undocumented students.”
“On behalf of the Commonwealth’s State Universities, I am thrilled that the Governor continues to increase access to a college education for all people that reside in Massachusetts,” said Salem State University President and Chair of the Council of Presidents for the Massachusetts State Universities John D. Keenan. “The Governor’s leadership continues to make college more affordable than ever before to Massachusetts students. The MASFA provides students who are not eligible to apply for Federal Financial Aid access to state financial aid. This, along with in-state tuition for Massachusetts high school graduates, is another important financial aid tool to help them reach their goal of earning a college degree.”
“The creation of a state financial aid application is another smart, common sense step by the Healey-Driscoll administration to break down existing financial barriers to higher education,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “The MASFA will make college more affordable for numerous Massachusetts students, empowering them to support their families and contribute to the state’s economy.”
“The MASFA is a crucial tool for advancing tuition equity in Massachusetts,” said Rob McCarron, President and CEO of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts. “Our private colleges and universities in Massachusetts are committed to serving all students who wish to attend college, as well as ensure that all students who are eligible can access need-based state financial aid, which for many students is essential to their goal of achieving a higher education.”
“MIRA Coalition extends heartfelt appreciation to the Department of Higher Education for their inclusive and collaborative efforts in implementing monumental tuition equity reform,” said Jonathan Paz, Policy Advocate for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition. “Tuition equity offers substantial benefits to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as to our state’s economy, which desperately needs more workers. We thank the Healey-Driscoll administration and the legislature for making this policy a reality and look forward to watching students from across the Commonwealth achieve their dreams.”
Filling out the MASFA does not commit any student to enrolling in a college or university, but it is the essential first step to applying for the financial assistance for which they may qualify to make college a reality.
To be eligible, Massachusetts residents must meet the following criteria:
- Was admitted to a public or private institution of higher education within the Massachusetts system of public higher education.
- Have attended at least three academic years at a high school in Massachusetts.
- Have graduated from high school in Massachusetts or have received the equivalent of a high school diploma (for example, a GED) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- Have applied for militaryselective service, if eligible.
- If the individual is not a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States, that person must provide a completed the DHE Affidavitstating that the individual will file an application to become a citizen or legal permanent resident within 120 days after the individual becomes eligible to do so.
An updated MASFA for the 2024-2025 academic year will be available in late winter/early spring and will be based on the 2024-2025 FAFSA, which is due to be released by the federal government on December 31, 2023.
The MASFA ensures that all students who qualify can access the significant investments made into higher education by the Healey-Driscoll administration this year, including MassReconnect, which made community college free for Commonwealth residents ages 25 and older regardless of income, and MASSGrant Plus Expansion, which covers the cost of tuition and fees for low-income students and reduces out-of-pocket costs for middle income students.
KARISSA HAND, PRESS SECRETARY