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Financing Your Education

Financing your education

Finding financial aid can be a full-time job. Aid is available, but the more time and effort you spend seeking it out, the more it will pay off.

Some options for short-term training include:

Your local career center may also be able to help get you access to federal money for training programs that can be completed in 12 months or less, often in the form of WIOA – or “Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act” – aid.

Financial Aid for Degree or Certificate Programs

You should always contact the financial aid office for the school(s) that you are applying to, but here are some types of financial aid that can help make school affordable.

If you are considering going to a proprietary school (a for-profit training institute), please read this consumer bulletin from the Massachusetts Department of Education. These schools can be more expensive than community college programs.


Grants are preferable to loans because they do not have to be repaid. Most students will receive a combination of grants and loans in a financial aid package. If you are applying for a federal grant, you need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is used to determine your eligibility and the amount in grant funds that you will received.

  • FEDERAL PELL GRANT For 2010-11 Pell Grants ranged up to $5,550 a year for full-time students. Undergrads only. FUNDING: U.S. Govt.
  • FEDERAL ACADEMIC COMPETITIVENESS GRANT Awards are up to $750 for first-year students and $1,300 for second-year students who have completed a rigorous high school program of study. FUNDING: U.S. Govt.
  • MASSGRANT For 2010-11, awards at Massachusetts Community Colleges ranged up to $900 per year depending on the need. Full-time undergraduate students only. FUNDING: State of Mass.
  • ACCESS GRANT The Massachusetts Community College Access Grant Program reduces the tuition and fees at community colleges for students enrolled in an associate degree program. Income restrictions apply. FUNDING: State of Mass.
  • PART-TIME STUDENT GRANT Award offers range from $200 to $450. Limited to eligible students enrolling in a community college for 6 to 11 semester hours per term. Undergrads only. FUNDING: State of Mass.
  • INSTITUTIONAL GRANTS – These grants can be provided by individual schools. Grants are normally limited to direct educational costs.
  • TUITION ADVANTAGE PROGRAM (TAP) – The Tuition Advantage Program was designed to help community college graduates with a GPA of 3.0 or better save up to 33% of their tuition when they transfer to a Massachusetts state college or the University of Massachusetts. Get more information about TAP here or contact the financial aid office of the school to which you are applying.


All loans MUST be repaid. Use this loan calculator to see how much your loan payments will be once you are done with school.

  • FEDERAL DIRECT STAFFORD LOAN A low-interest educational loan of up to $5,500 per year (no more than $3,500 can be subsidized) for freshman and $6,500 per year (no more than $4,500 can be subsidized) for sophomores. FUNDING: U.S. Govt.
  • FEDERAL WORK STUDY (FWS) typically allows students to work an average of 10 to 12 hours per week during the school year. FUNDING: US Govt. and your school


MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board

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