Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

ANSWERS

Q: How do I know if I am eligible for the Commonwealth Commitment program?

You are eligible to participate if you:

  1. Plan to enter a Massachusetts Community College between fall 2016 and fall 2017,
  2. Attend college full-time, and
  3. Maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00.

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Q: When can I apply?

You should let your advisor know during your first semester that you intend to apply for the program. You will be given a participation form to fill out and return to the registrar. Please note that you must declare your interest in entering the program before earning 15 credits at a community college.

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Q: Is the Commonwealth Commitment only available to Massachusetts residents?

Yes.

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Q: What if I haven't declared my major yet? Can I still apply?

Yes, but the Commonwealth Commitment program works best for students who have a pretty good idea what they want to study. The “Commitment” of a financial discount is made to students who plan to pursue one of the 24 “A2B Mapped” programs available through MassTransfer. Commonwealth Commitment students need to remain on track to graduate from a state university or UMass campus within 4–4.5 years. So, it’s best to identify your major when you enter the program.

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Q: What if I change my major?

In most cases, changing your major will mean that you will need to take additional required courses. That could make it difficult or impossible for you to graduate in the maximum time permitted for Commonwealth Commitment students, which is 4.5 years. That said, many students change majors for very good reasons. It may the right move for you, and you may find additional scholarships or other aid to offset the loss of the Commonwealth Commitment discount. For example, MassTransfer students who maintain a 3.00 GPA earn a MassTransfer tuition credit worth an average of $1,184 per year upon transfer to a state university or UMass campus.

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Q: How and when will I receive the Commonwealth Commitment discount?

At the end of every semester you complete, assuming you maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher, you will receive a 10% rebate. This rebate will be applied to any amount you still owe to your college or university at the end of the semester, or if you owe nothing, it will be refunded to you in the form of a check.

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Q: How much money will I save?

Students who complete the Commonwealth Commitment program will realize an average savings of 40% off the cost of their bachelor’s degree, as compared to attending their chosen state university or UMass campus for all four years. See our Savings Calculator to explore potential savings models, and see our Commonwealth Commitment Cost Calculator to see today’s current Commonwealth Commitment degree costs.

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Q: Does the Commonwealth Commitment cover the costs of textbooks?

Not directly, but you may decide to use some of the savings you realize through participating in the program to pay for textbooks or other expenses.

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Q: I have to work to pay for school. Can I do the Commonwealth Commitment program as a part-time student?

Not currently. Students must enroll in a full-time course of study, taking 15 credits per semester (or 12 credits during fall and spring semesters, and additional credits during winter and summer terms). Many students do manage to attend full-time and also work a number of hours outside of school, although it is very hard to go to school full-time and also work full-time. The program isn’t for everyone. The state has launched the Commonwealth Commitment because Massachusetts is facing a shortage of college graduates and wants to encourage more students to complete their degrees at a faster pace. Research shows that full-time students save money on the overall cost of their education, and also tend to have higher overall graduation rates  than students who go part-time.

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Q: Do I have the option of moving into on-campus housing when I transfer to a state university or UMass campus?

Yes, but at an additional cost to you. Room and board are not covered under the terms of the Commonwealth Commitment program.

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Q: Why aren't nursing and engineering programs included?

These high-demand programs are expensive for universities to run; given current budgetary realities for both the state and campuses, it is impossible to discount the programs at this time.

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Q: I have been accepted to UMass and several of the state universities but wonder if I should now plan to attend a community college first and then transfer in for my last two years. Won't I save a lot of money?

You might -- but then again, you might not. UMass campuses and state universities have increased scholarship support to students. Check all your financial options and get advice from the college of your choice before selecting your bachelor’s degree pathway.

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Q: I'd like to attend the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Why do I need to transfer in after only one and a half years at a community college?

As a “special-mission” institution, the Mass Maritime Academy's academic programs require an earlier transfer by students in order to complete a full course of study. You will complete the final semester of your associate degree at MMA; those credits will “reverse transfer” back to your community college and you will earn both an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree. You will also be required to live on campus—and, for some majors, complete a semester at sea—in order to graduate.

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Q: Are all Massachusetts colleges and universities taking part in the Commonwealth Commitment?

All PUBLIC campuses are. These include the four undergraduate campuses of the University of Massachusetts, nine state universities, and 15 community colleges. Private colleges and universities are not signatories to the Commonwealth Commitment agreement.

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