On Tuesday, an application that allows illegal immigrants residing in the state to access financial aid and in-state tuition rates was added to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education website.
The application, called MASFA, was established by the passage of a bill called the Tuition Equity Act. The MASFA application will fill the same role as its federal equivalent, known as the FAFSA. However, MASFA was created by Massachusetts because one must be a U.S. citizen to be eligible for federal financial aid.
To be eligible for MASFA, a student needs to have completed at least three years of high school in Massachusetts and have received a high school diploma in the state. Legal authorization to be present in the U.S. is not a requirement.
If a student applies, they must sign up for military selective service (the draft) and complete an affidavit to the Massachusetts Department of Education promising to apply to become a citizen or legal permanent resident within 120 days after becoming eligible to do so.
In a press release about MASFA, Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll praised the application.
“Students who have long been part of our communities in Massachusetts should be eligible for the historic financial aid programs we have launched this year, and they should have every opportunity to grow their careers and be part of building our state’s workforce.”, said Healey.
“The MASFA will open doors to need based financial aid for students looking to attend any public or private Massachusetts college or university”, said Driscoll.
The Tuition Equity Law and the creation of MASFA come amidst other legal changes that allow non-citizens living in Massachusetts access to benefits and rights formerly only held by citizens.
As of July 1, 2023 non-citizens in Massachusetts can obtain a Class D (passenger vehicle) or Class M (motorcycle) license. This comes after the passage of the Work and Family Mobility Act in 2022. The bill became a law after the legislature overrode a veto by then-Gov. Charlie Baker. The new law also faced a citizens’ initiative looking to reverse it in 2022. The law was upheld with 54% of voters backing it.
In December 2023, the Boston City Council passed a petition giving non-citizens the right to vote in city elections.
Democrats in the Massachusetts State Legislature introduced Bill H.671 in 2023 which would give non-citizens the right to vote in municipal elections statewide.