Saving and Paying for College in Massachusetts

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Mark Kantrowitz

By Mark Kantrowitz

October 16, 2019

Massachusetts offers several college savings, grant and scholarship programs to help Massachusetts residents pay for college in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts College Savings Programs

The Massachusetts’s U.Fund 529 Plan is a 529 college savings plan that provides tax and financial aid advantages for investors who are saving for a child’s qualified higher education expenses and K-12 tuition. The Massachusetts 529 plan is among the Top 10 direct-sold 529 plans rated by, with a 4.5 Cap rating, because it offers strong performance and low costs.

Massachusetts provides a state income tax deduction based on contributions to the state’s 529 plan. The tax deduction is limited to $1,000 per year for single filers and $2,000 per year for married filing jointly.

Minimum contributions are $15. The maximum contribution limit is $400,000.

Investment options include three age-based asset allocations, one based on passively-managed index funds, one based on actively-managed funds and one based on a blend of the two. There are also six multi-fund portfolios, five individual-fund portfolios and a FDIC-insured bank deposit portfolio.



The MASSGrant is a need-based grant available to legal state residents who have lived in Massachusetts for at least one full year prior to the start of the academic year.

To be eligible for the MASSGrant, students must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by May 1 and be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant. Male students must have registered with Selective Service. Students must not have a prior Bachelor’s degree.

Students must be enrolled full-time at a state-approved public, private non-profit or private for-program college or university in Massachusetts. The MASSGrant is also available at approved colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington DC that have reciprocity agreements with Massachusetts.

The MASSGrant Plus is available only at Massachusetts community colleges. Students may be enrolled full-time or part-time. The deadline is November 1.


Other Massachusetts State Grants

Massachusetts offers several other state grant programs:

  • The Foster Child Grant provides up to $6,000 per year for foster children age 18-25 who are enrolled in college on a full-time basis.
  • The Gilbert Matching Student Grant Program provides matching funds to Massachusetts colleges and universities for need-based grants of up to $2,500.
  • The Massachusetts Cash Grant provides need-based grants to cover required fees and non-state-supported tuition not covered by the Need-Based Tuition Waiver Program for students enrolled at least half-time at a public college or university in Massachusetts.
  • The Massachusetts Part-Time Grant Program provides need-based grants to Pell-eligible students who are enrolled part-time in Massachusetts public, private non-profit and private for-profit colleges and universities. The amount of the grant depends on the type of college and can be up to $900 per year.
  • The Massachusetts Public Service Grant is available to students whose parent or spouse was killed or is missing in the line of public service duty in Massachusetts. Public service duty includes police, fire and corrections officers. Children of veterans who were killed in action are also eligible. This grant is not based on financial need and covers the cost of tuition.

Massachusetts also offers several college scholarship programs:

  • John and Abigail Adams Scholarship provides a merit-based scholarship for tuition at Massachusetts state colleges and universities. Eligibility is based on scores on the 10th grade Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test. Students must rank in the top 25% in their school district.
  • The Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship provides a 50% need-based scholarships to students who have overcome major obstacles and adversity, yet demonstrate academic promise.
  • The Agnes M. Lindsay Scholarship provides need-based scholarships to students from rural Massachusetts who enroll at a public colleges in Massachusetts.
  • The Massachusetts High Demand Scholarship supports students who are pursuing a STEM degree at a Massachusetts state university. The scholarship provides up to $5,500 per year for full-time students and half that for part-time students.
  • The Francis Ouimet Scholarship provides a scholarship worth up to $40,000 for students who have worked at golf courses in Massachusetts.
  • One Family Scholarships are available to Massachusetts residents who are low-income and homeless.
  • The Stephen Phillips Memorial Scholarship provides renewable scholarships up to $15,000 with a goal of helping students avoid high levels of student loan debt.
  • The Paul Tsongas Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship that provides a waiver of tuition and required fees at Massachusetts state universities. Recipients must have a 3.75 or higher high school GPA and at least a 1200 on the SAT and must maintain at least a 3.3 GPA.

Students should also look for scholarships at their local community foundation, such as the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation.

Other Sources of Funding for Massachusetts Students

The FAFSA provides access to the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Work-Study and federal student loans.

Taxpayers may also obtain the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) or Lifetime Learning Tax Credit (LLTC) by filing a federal income tax return. These are partially refundable and non-refundable tax credits based on amounts paid for tuition and textbooks.

The New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) sponsors the Tuition Break Program, also known as the New England Regional Student Program (RSP), which provides discounted tuition for New England students who enroll at out-of-state New England colleges and universities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Massachusetts students should also search for scholarships using a free scholarship search site. Not only will these sites help Massachusetts students find Massachusetts-specific scholarships, but they will also match them against non-state-specific scholarships.

In addition to sponsoring the Massachusetts U.Fund 529 college savings plan, the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) also provides a prepaid tuition plan, ABLE account, and undergraduate and graduate student loans.

A good place to start:

See the best 529 plans, personalized for you