Paying for College

4 Ways to Make College Affordable

College can be more affordable through dual enrollment, transfer agreements, college partnerships, and Tuition Break.
Student using computer to learn how to make college affordable

Have you ever thought to yourself, there has to be a way to obtain a college degree at a lower cost? Well you're not alone; plenty of families ask us this question as they navigate the college planning process. Listed below are some ideas that you may consider as a way to manage and reduce the overall cost of a college degree.

Dual Enrollment

Dual enrollment programs are offered to high school students that are academically qualified to take college-level classes at Massachusetts public higher education institutions. These programs allow students to earn college credit while at the same time working toward their high school diploma. The cost for these courses is reduced from the standard course rate and can be a money-saving way to earn college-level credit. You can learn more about Dual Enrollment Programs by visiting the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education website or by checking in with your high school to determine if there are programs available locally.

Transfer Agreements

One way to reduce the overall cost of a college education is to begin study at a community college where students can earn an associate degree at a much lower cost, then transfer on to a four-year college to complete their bachelor's degree. Massachusetts has had transfer agreements between two-year and four-year colleges for many years. Students can visit the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education's website for MassTransfer to review the numerous transfer opportunities and benefits that exist within the public higher education system.

In addition to transfer within the public higher education system, there are many community colleges that have transfer agreements with private colleges and universities as well. These programs allow credits earned at a community college to be transferred to the college or university for progress toward a bachelor's degree.

Regardless of whether a student plans to stay within the public system or transfer to a private college, he or she should work closely with his or her academic advisor to understand the details of the transfer agreement and exactly what credits will be accepted at the four-year school.

College Partnerships

Colleges today are working hard to create partnerships that allow a student to transition seamlessly from a community college to a four-year institution and save money. One example of such a program was announced last year as a partnership between Worcester State and Fitchburg State Universities and Quinsigamond and Mount Wachusett Community Colleges. These colleges have come together to provide an incentive for students to obtain both associate and bachelor's degrees for $30,000 in certain majors. You can find more information on this program by visiting the college websites.

Tuition Break

New England residents are able to enroll at regional public colleges and universities at a discount thanks to the Tuition Break program provided by the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE). Students are eligible for the program when they enroll in an approved major that is not offered within their own state's public higher education system. There are hundreds of majors that qualify, so take some time to visit the Tuition Break website and learn more.

College costs are a concern to all families. This list helps provide some guidance and information on non-traditional ways to lower the overall expense of a college education. If you have questions about paying for college, reach out to MEFA anytime at or (800) 449-MEFA (6332).

Learn about paying for college in Massachusetts