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December 30, 2016

Starting this June, high school students who graduate from Boston Public Schools and meet a few requirements will be able to enroll at Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) or Roxbury Community College (RCC) for free. (Courtesy of Bunker Hill Community College)

UPDATE (12/30/2016): Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on Friday announced that the Tuition-Free Community College Plan has expanded its participating schools to include MassBay Community College, bringing the number of participating colleges to three. 

In an effort to make higher education more affordable and accessible, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is promising to make community college tuition-free for high schoolers who graduate with passing grades.

Starting June, 2016, high school students who graduate from Boston Public Schools with at least a 2.2 GPA and can demonstrate financial need, won’t have to pay a dime if they enroll at either Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) or Roxbury Community College (RCC) -- the city’s two community colleges.

“There’s no excuse why we don’t have more kids participating in... four-year college once we get them through the community college process. We have a couple of great community colleges here in the city of Boston and it’s the way to go,” Mayor Walsh said on WGBH Radio.

The mayor says the program will be funded by fees collected from commercial developers, but his administration offered few details and hasn't said how many graduates would qualify for the program or how much it would cost.

"We have unprecedented growth in our city," Walsh said. "We have about $7.5 billion worth of development going on. We have another $14 billion in the pipeline. So why not take advantage of that economy?"

The announcement comes as the Walsh administration considers an audit that would close 40 percent of the city's schools.

In the past year, several states have created similar free community college programs, including Oregon, Tennessee and Minnesota. Legislation addressing community college costs has also been introduced in at least 10 other states.

confronting cost, increasing access and success

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