Equity and Accessibility
Everyone Can Afford a Community College Education
To make a college education a reality for all, financial limitations must not prevent students from enrolling in classes or completing their degrees. Boston’s community colleges offer some of the lowest tuition and fees in all of Massachusetts, in support of our open-to-all approach.
Roxbury Community College (RCC) is committed to connecting students with public and private financial assistance programs, to cover tuition and fees. We also provide students with assistance covering the indirect costs of a college education, such as books and transportation expenses. Students cannot focus on their studies if they are worried about paying for their classes, so we spend time with each student to ensure that costs do not become a burden.
Guidance for Students
A large percentage of our student population is made up of first-time or first-generation college students who are not familiar with the financial aid process. Many students have never heard the terms “FAFSA” or “Pell Grant” before entering our offices. As part of the enrollment process, financial aid advisors meet with incoming students one-on-one to explain the financial aid process and answer questions. By breaking down the requirements and process, we help students maximize their awards while also identifying the additional support programs that are available.
After students enroll at the college, we provide ongoing support. Financial situations change, and we are ready to advise on alternative funding sources as-needed. Although financial aid is governed by a strict set of rules and regulations, our advisors share insight on financial resources using a personal, conversational approach. We know that discussing personal finances is difficult for everyone, so offering a warm, welcoming environment for financial assistance is a priority.
Assistance for Tuition & Fees
Nearly 80 percent of students at RCC are eligible for Federal Pell Grants, which are need-based grants that do not need to be repaid. To ensure a college education remains affordable to our neediest students, RCC keeps tuition and fees below the maximum Pell Grant award amount. RCC also receives several state-funded grants, which offer additional financial support, tuition refund programs, and rebate offerings which can be applied to student expenses like books, supplies, and campus services.
RCC students who meet certain cumulative GPA and residency requirements may be eligible to participate in the specialized financial aid programs we’ve developed through partnerships with the Boston Public School system, the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, and the MA public four-year schools. These programs include Boston’s Tuition-Free Community College Plan, the Commonwealth Commitment, and the Mass Transfer program.
Thanks to the generosity of the Roxbury Community College Foundation (RCCF), both merit- and need-based scholarships are available to RCC students. Beginning in Fall 2020, need-based scholarships will be awarded to students based on financial records. Students can apply for merit-based scholarships based on academic and extracurricular achievements, which are awarded each semester.
“We know that discussing personal finances is difficult for everyone, so offering a warm, welcoming environment for financial assistance is a priority.”
Covering Indirect Costs
All students at RCC benefit from the Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative. RCC faculty and staff have served as state-wide leaders for the OER initiative, which encourages faculty members to replace textbooks with free, open-source materials for their classes. As of Spring 2020, 60% of courses at RCC now utilize OER resources as opposed to textbooks, ensuring that RCC students have maximum access to free course materials. All students also have the option to rent textbooks through the bookstore or to borrow textbooks through the library’s reserve program.
Beginning in Fall 2020, all new RCC students will have the opportunity to enroll in the RoxSTARS program, which provides new, full-time students with a laptop to keep during their studies and after earning their degree, at no additional cost. Part-time students, continuing students, and non-credit students can also join this program and receive a laptop on loan. Through the RoxSTARS program, all students will have the technology needed to complete their courses without making an additional investment.
RCC’s Project Access connects students with affordable options for childcare, transportation, housing, and more. The department is also working on a new program to address food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Helping to alleviate some of these financial burdens allows our students to concentrate on their academic goals without making personal financial sacrifices.
A Long-Term Commitment
This dedication to identifying and securing new avenues for financial assistance is a direct reflection of the shared mission and core values engrained in Boston’s community colleges. Community colleges are founded on the belief that everyone who wants a quality education should be able to receive one. We take this mission to heart because we know how essential our programs are to our students, and to the future success of Boston’s skilled workforce and diverse communities.