Boston, MA– Mayor Martin J. Walsh yesterday announced the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT) will be the first private college to participate in Boston's Tuition-Free Community College Plan.
Established in 2016, this program makes college affordable for any individuals who have completed high school. The colleges already enrolled in the program include Roxbury Community College, Bunker Hill Community College, and MassBay Community College.
Mayor Walsh spoke about his excitement at expanding the program to BFIT: "BFIT's mission aligns with our commitment to providing a path to the middle class for Boston's young people," said Mayor Walsh. "I am pleased to announce that we are adding BFIT to the list of colleges participating in our Tuition-Free Community College Plan, providing more opportunities for Boston's students to access higher education. When everyone has a chance to move forward, Boston succeeds."
Students will be able to enroll beginning in fall of 2019. There are currently 316 students enrolled in the free tuition plan across the three colleges, with almost 85 percent of the most recently accepted students identifying as African American or Hispanic/Latino.
BFIT's president was equally optimistic as the mayor for the potential such a program has for Boston youth: "The Tuition-Free Community College Plan will make the dream of a college diploma attainable for many more deserving students who otherwise would not be able to afford it," said BFIT President Anthony Benoit. "The program's financial support will allow more of Boston's young people to earn a BFIT degree and qualify for rewarding careers, uplifting themselves, their families, and their communities."
In order to qualify for this program, you must be a Boston resident who graduated from a high school in Boston, or a METCO student who earned their HiSET or GED.
How, exactly, is Boston managing to pay for this? Bernie Sanders, a presidential candidate for 2020, received some criticism when he released his plan to make college free for any households making less than $125,000 a year. The cost of his proposed program? $47 billion a year. How would he pay for it? Essentially, by putting taxes on any transaction that takes place on Wall Street. Is that what Boston did?
Boston is paying for this using the Neighborhood Jobs Trust. The program, established in 1987, is essentially a tax on any large-scale real estate developments in Boston. The tax only applies to projects that are larger than 100,000 square feet, and for those the city charges $1.78 per square foot.
To give an idea of how this works, Millennium Tower, a luxury high rise in downtown Boston, generated nearly $400,000 to the NJT fund.
So, next time you see another swanky development being built (and it's happening more and more these days) take comfort in the fact that those developers are also contributing to the community by paying for residents of Boston to receive free college education.