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Cambridge Promise Pilot

Cambridge Promise Pilot Recipients

A working group led by the Office of Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, City Staff, the Cambridge Public School District, the College Success Initiative, Cambridge School Committee Members, and the Cambridge Community Foundation has met since September 2022 to create a pilot program that was modeled after the Boston Tuition-Free Community College Fund. It was formed to address inequities in degree attainment and the rising cost of college.

The Cambridge Promise Pilot will allow up to 20-30 eligible students enrolled at Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) and supported by the City's College Success Initiative (CSI) to receive a “last dollar plus scholarship,” which includes free tuition and fees for the 2023-2024 academic year. In addition to the free tuition and fees, the program will also pay for school-related expenses not covered by a student’s Pell Grant and outside scholarships, and provide an additional $250 stipend each semester. In support of the program, MIT and Harvard University each committed $25,000 to fully fund the pilot in its first year.

Students who are eligible for the Cambridge Promise pilot program meet the following criteria:

  • Graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS) in 2023 
  • Are a Cambridge resident
  • Enrolled in at least three (3) credits at Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) within 12 months of graduating 
  • Have a recognized need for financial aid based on their FAFSA information (although students do not need to qualify for FAFSA to receive a Cambridge Promise grant)
  • Have been referred to and are participating in the City's College Success Initiative (CSI)

Photo Credit: Yonas Aschale

Cambridge Promise FAQs

Where is funding coming from?

MIT and Harvard University have agreed to provide $25,000 each for a total of $50,000 to support the pilot program.

What is a "last dollar plus scholarship"?

In addition to a student's tuition and fees, the Cambridge Promise scholarship will also pay for school-related expenses not covered by a student’s Pell Grant and outside scholarships plus an additional $250 semester. 

Does a student need to pay the Cambridge Promise scholarship back after they graduate?

No. This is a scholarship and students do not have to pay any of the funds back.

Can a student still work if they get this grant money?

Yes. A student can still work on or off campus while receiving the Cambridge Promise scholarship.

How does a student make sure they continue to be eligible?

To continue receiving the Cambridge Promise scholarship for a maximum of 6 semesters, students must:

  1. Enroll at BHCC for at least 3 credits per semester
  2. Complete a FAFSA application each academic year
  3. Be a Cambridge resident with a Cambridge address. (Students living in a temporary shelter or unhoused may still be eligible for the program)

If students leave Bunker Hill Community College, they will forfeit the scholarship for any semester they are not enrolled. 



What happens if a student's finanical situation changes for the following academic year?

Even if the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) changes, a student will continue to be eligible for the Cambridge Promise so long as they meet all the other criteria.

What happens if a student drops to less than 9 credits for the academic year (2023-2024)? 

Students are eligible for Cambridge Promise if enrolled in 3 or more credits. However, please be aware that if a student takes fewer than 9 credits, their financial aid amount may also be reduced. (View Enrollment Status Minimum Requirements (PDF) information from the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid website). 

How are students selected for the Cambridge Promise pilot year (2023-2024)?

Students are eligible for the pilot program if they graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin (CRLS) in 2023 and are enrolled in the College Success Initiative (CSI). Students must be referred to CSI, which serves students underrepresented in higher education, including immigrant students, first-generation college students, and students from households with low incomes. 

What happens if a student loses their PELL eligibility due to failure to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress criteria, either because of their GPA or completion rate?  

If a student is placed on financial aid suspension because they did not meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), they may still be eligible for the Cambridge Promise scholarship.

How is this different from the MassReconnect program?

MassReconnect, led by the state's Department of Higher Education in partnership with Massachusetts’ public community colleges, offers free community college to Massachusetts residents who are 25 and older. Learn more about MassReconnect.
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