Healey-Driscoll Administration extends State Financial Aid Priority deadline to July 1

In alignment with the Biden-Harris Administration’s call to support students in completing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the Healey-Driscoll Administration announced  that the Department of Higher Education (DHE) has moved the priority deadline for its largest state financial aid program, MASSGrant, from May 1 to July 1, 2024. This later deadline gives Massachusetts students more time to complete their FAFSA for the 2024-2025 academic year.

MASSGrant is a need-based financial aid program that helps to cover educational expenses at state public and private colleges and universities. During FAFSA Week of Action, the administration is encouraging students to complete their FAFSA as soon as possible.

“Massachusetts is home to the greatest higher education institutions in the world, but we need to make sure that students are able to access that education. That’s why our administration has taken action to significantly expand financial aid,” said Governor Maura Healey. “We are extending the MASSGrant deadline to ensure that students who qualify for this financial aid have enough time and support to apply and do not leave money on the table.”

“Many students’ post-high school plans rest on whether or not they receive the financial aid needed to make going to college a reality,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “This year’s updated deadline supports students who have reported challenges completing this year’s new FAFSA, and the move is part of larger efforts to remove financial barriers to the life-changing opportunities that higher education offers.”   

The extended priority deadline for MASSGrant comes in response to challenges that students are facing as they work to complete the significantly updated FAFSA. Students who qualify for MASSGrant and apply by the July 1, 2024 priority deadline are guaranteed to receive financial assistance from this program. Students who cannot complete the FAFSA due to their immigration status can complete the MASFA to apply for state need-based financial aid. 

“We’re happy to allow more time for FAFSA completion this year to support our students, families, and those in our K-12 schools and educational community who work tirelessly to help with FAFSA completion,” said Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler. “The Healey-Driscoll Administration, in partnership with the Legislature, is committed to helping students access higher education. We are hopeful that students will apply for financial aid and take advantage of the many expanded opportunities to attend college more affordably.”  

“Our message to students and families continues to remain the same: fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Noe Ortega. “This year’s extended deadline responds to feedback from students, campuses and other partners about this year’s unique challenges with FAFSA completion. We want students to know there are significant financial aid dollars available for those who qualify, and that persevering through completing the FAFSA is worth it.”  

“This updated MASSGrant priority deadline is welcome news,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Acting Commissioner Russell D. Johnston. “I hope students, especially first generation college students, will see the extended deadline and the Administration’s significant expansion of financial aid and realize that public higher education is within reach.”   

Along with Massachusetts’ longstanding MASSGrant program, the Healey-Driscoll Administration has brought historic increases in student financial aid. In August 2023, the administration launched MassReconnect, which makes community college tuition and fees free for students ages 25 and older without prior degrees, regardless of income. Then in November 2023, the administration launched MASSGrant Plus Expansion that provides free tuition and fees to Pell Grant-eligible students at all Massachusetts public colleges and universities (not including room and board) along with a $1,200 allowance for books and supplies. The expansion of MASSGrant Plus also cuts tuition and fees in half for middle-income families earning an adjusted gross income between $73,000 and $100,000 annually.   

“Extending the MASSGrant deadline puts higher education within reach for more students and families in our Commonwealth at a moment when we should be doing everything in our power to make college accessible to every resident. I’m proud to live in a Commonwealth where education is a priority, and I applaud the Healey-Driscoll Administration for extending this deadline and giving families more time to complete their FAFSA,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland).

“As a former public school teacher, I understand firsthand the importance of ensuring equitable access to education,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “I applaud the Healey-Driscoll Administration for extending the state’s application deadline as it will be impactful for students most in need of financial support to make college a reality.”

“I applaud the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s action to ensure as many students as possible have the opportunity to complete a FAFSA and to keep the doors to higher education wide open to students regardless of their financial situation,” said Senator Jo Comerford (D-Amherst), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education.

“The college application process has always been a challenging time for students and their families, this year made more difficult by the new FAFSA form rollout,” said House Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge). “I commend the Healey-Driscoll Administration for extending the MASSGrant priority deadline and, more generally, for partnering with the House to expand access to higher education significantly.”

“We should be doing everything in our power to make applying to college and financial aid as accessible and simple as possible, said State Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. “I am proud that the Healey-Driscoll Administration and the State Legislature have been allocating significant funding and resources to make public higher education more accessible in Massachusetts. Extending the priority deadline for MASSGrant will allow more students to receive this financial support from the state to be able to attend college.”

“I join with my colleagues in the House of Representatives as we welcome all tools available to aid students and their families to meet the challenges of financial concerns and, more importantly, the great opportunities of higher education,” said State Representative Denise Garlick, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education.

How to complete the FAFSA for students and their families  

• High school students are encouraged to inquire with their school counselor about applying for financial aid and applying to college. Additional resources are available for students looking for assistance completing the FAFSA, including the below contacts:   

• MassEdCO serves students who are low-income and first-generation to college. Students can find local assistance with college access by entering their zip code on the MassEdCO website: Massachusetts Education & Career Opportunities, Inc. (MassEdCo). 

• Watch the “FAFSA How to” videos.

• FAFSA Day Massachusetts: [email protected]   

• The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA): (800) 449-MEFA (6332), [email protected]   

• The Department of Higher Education’s Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA): (617) 391-6070, [email protected]   

Students are encouraged to attend an upcoming free, virtual FAFSA Day MA event, where they can receive personalized help from a financial aid professional. DHE recommends these three steps to students and families:  

1. Create an FSA ID. At least a week before attending a FAFSA completion event, create your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID if you don’t have one. This ID allows you to log in and complete a FAFSA. It takes a few days for your account to be activated, so please start this process a week in advance of trying to complete your FAFSA. For instructions on creating the FSA ID, visit studentaid.gov. If applicable, have your Social Security number ready.   

2. Sign up for a FAFSA completion event. Sign up for a virtual, free FAFSA Day MA event on April 30 or May 13 by following this link. You can look for similar events on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) website. Another option is to ask your school counselor if there are any upcoming FAFSA completion events in your community.   

3. Gather your documents. Visit this link for a list of documents you should have with you when you complete the FAFSA. You do NOT need to submit these items to the federal government, but you may need the information on them.  

“Extending the deadline of the MASSGrant financial aid program by the DHE is another example of how the Healey-Driscoll Administration is putting the Commonwealth’s students first,” said John D. Keenan, President of Salem State University and Chair of the State University Council of Presidents. “With FAFSA delays, this has been a challenging year for all students but particularly for those that attend state universities as so many of them are first generation to college. The MASSGrant extension will provide families with a clearer picture of how they can obtain their bachelor’s degree, a dream within reach for many.”

“I applaud the Healey-Driscoll Administration for allowing Massachusetts college-bound students and families more time to complete the FAFSA and to qualify for the MASSGrant program,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “Our goal is to ensure that qualified students can leverage every bit of financial aid that is available to them, and this extension will help realize that. In a similar spirit, UMass campuses have also extended their deposit deadlines for entering students.”

“Given the challenging rollout of FAFSA, any and all support and additional time we can provide to students and families in the Commonwealth is crucial,” said Rob McCarron, president and CEO of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts. “Attending and graduating from a college or university can bring life-changing opportunities, and state financial aid programs, such as MassGrant, provides much-needed support, making financial aid critical for all deserving students.”

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