Massachusetts Student Loans

StudentAs one of the oldest states in America, Massachusetts is legendary for its history, culture and educational institutions. It is home to two of the most reputable universities in the world, and its location, standard of living, and sporting dominance draws many visitors, tourists and students every year. If you are one of the many people looking at going to the Commonwealth for school, we have put together information on higher education and student loans in Massachusetts.

Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts

Forbes magazine compiled a list of the top 650 colleges in America. Four schools from Massachusetts placed in the top 10. They are, in descending order:

Other notable Massachusetts colleges and universities that Forbes included in their list of the top American colleges were Tufts University (number 25), Wellesley College (number 29), and Boston University (number 36). In total, there are 26 Massachusetts-based schools on Forbes’ list, meaning that the 7th smallest state in America is home to 4% of its best institutions of higher education.

Williams College, in Williamstown, MA, is also ranked by US News & World Report as the number 1 liberal arts college in the country, beating out 265 other comparable schools. Its 2014 ranking is the 11th consecutive year it has been awarded that honor.

Founded in 1793, it is one of the oldest colleges in the United States. With a student body of fewer than 3,000, Williams College is known for its 7 to 1 student to faculty ratio, and for being one of the most selective colleges in the country (the acceptance rate for the class of 2017 is only 17 percent). Uniquely among American schools, Williams Colleges practices “tutorials,” wherein, under the limited supervision of a professor, a student writes a paper based on the week’s materials for a class, and another student offers a critique of the paper. The following week, the roles are reversed.

As part of its mythical stature, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (located in Cambridge, Massachusetts) is incredibly selective. The school says it admits “people, not numbers,” and to that effect, it accepted just 7.9% of the 18,000 undergraduate applications it received for the class of 2018.  However, that selectivity has resulted in MIT graduating 81 Nobel Laureates (including 27 actual Nobel Prize winners), 45 Rhodes Scholars, and such eminent individuals as Buzz Aldrin, Kofi Annan, and Benjamin Netanyahu. Such is the caliber of MIT’s alumni that the aggregated revenue of the companies that they have founded (Intel, Dropbox, Texas Instruments, and McDonnell Douglas, among many others) would make for the 11th largest economy in the world, employing more than 3 million people and generating around $1.9 trillion every year (per estimates from Entrepreneur).

A select number of schools can lay claim to being one of the oldest institutions of higher education, but with a birthday in 1636, Harvard University (also in Cambridge) is the oldest such school in the United States. Ranking Harvard at number 2 in its list of national universities, US News & World Report says that the school’s library collection is the oldest in America, and the largest in the world. Harvard has the largest endowment of any university in the world, at $32 billion, putting more financial resources at its disposal than any other higher education institution on the planet. Eight former Presidents of the United States graduated from Harvard University, including Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, after whom Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government is named.

Amherst College, in Amherst, is the second best liberal arts school in the country, per US News & World Report’s rankings, which single out the “rigorous academic climate” of the school. Amherst is incredibly exclusive with its admissions, accepting only 13 percent of applicants to the class of 2016. Amherst does not require its students to study a core curriculum, and students have the option of designing their own major.

More than half of the school’s exclusively undergraduate student body receives scholarship aid. Nearly 60 percent of Amherst’s living alumni make a gift to the school on a yearly basis, one of the highest such rates in the country. Notable alumni include Calvin Coolidge (the 30th President of the United States), Harlan Fiske Stone (the 12th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States), two directors of the CIA, one director of the FBI, four Nobel Prize winners, and 12 Pulitzer Prize winners.


In addition to basic federal financial aid offered to Massachusetts-bound students, there are specific grants and loans available to you if you want to study in Massachusetts. Some of these may be limited to residents of the state (that is, you must have been living in Massachusetts for 12 months prior to filing your application). Others require applicants to have graduated from a high school in Massachusetts.

The John and Abigail Adams Scholarship awards a qualifying undergraduate student a prize that covers up to eight semesters of their tuition (room and board are not included). To be eligible to receive the scholarship, students must have Advanced or Proficient scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment  System test in the disciplines of English Language Arts, Mathematics, or an appropriate STEM field (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.).

Massachusetts’s Need-Based Tuition Waiver Program is intended to offset some of the high costs of the concentration of world-famous schools in the state with the belief that the benefits of higher education must be available to all citizens. Students need to demonstrate financial need, which decides the amount of the award that they receive.

Student Loans

The federal government, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and private lenders administer student loans in Massachusetts. All student loans have to be paid back over a period of time, with interest on top of the principal.

The Office of Student Financial Assistance of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education offers the Massachusetts No Interest Loan. It offers qualifying Massachusetts residents who demonstrate financial need with 0% interest loans to meet the costs of their school of choice. Recipients of the loan have 10 years to pay back the amount. Loans range from $1,000 to $4,000, and they are based on the amount of financial need in the student’s FAFSA application.

Privately, the Massachusetts Education Finance Agency is authorized by the state to provide fixed rate loans to both Massachusetts residents and out-of-state students seeking graduate and undergraduate degrees. There are different student loans with interest rates that change depending on the repayment option. As with most loans, the interest rates are lower if you start paying them while you are in school, but increase if you defer payment until after you graduate and (theoretically) get a job.

Publicly, organizations like Citizens Bank and LendKey also offer loans to Massachusetts students. They are available at most schools that have degree-seeking programs. Both have loan programs for undergraduates and graduates, with no fees and a choice of fixed or variable interest rates, with the availability of discounts.

Financial Aid in Massachusetts

Through the Tuition Break program offered by the New England Board of Higher Education, you can apply for tuition breaks if you are not a Massachusetts resident; however, you must be a resident of a state in New England in order to qualify, and you have to enroll in a program (in a Massachusetts-based school) that is not available in your home state. Eligible states are:

Speaking to US News & World Report, the director of the New England Regional Student Program explains that students save an average of $7,000 per year.

A school like the Massachusetts College of Technology carries an unsurprisingly hefty price tag, as it will cost you almost $60,000 to attend, including room and board. Around 90% of admitted undergraduates receive some form of financial aid.

As the number one institute of higher education in the country, Williams College has a similar tuition fee to that of MIT. The school promises “one of the most generous financial aid programs in the country.” Financial aid at Williams is based entirely on students’ needs.

Amherst College charges up to $68,132 for the full admissions package. Scholarships and grants totaling almost $46.5 million dollars were disbursed to 55% of applying students.

Harvard University’s fees for the 2014-2015 academic year can reach up to $68,050, but the university promises that around 70 percent of its students get some form of financial aid. Harvard offers its students scholarships, student jobs, and loans to help cover some of the tuition costs. One such option is the Harvard Loan Program, which is based on student need and gives students 10 years to make monthly payments of $10.61 per $1,000 borrowed. Another option is employment; according to the university, 66% of its student body works, whether over the summer or while school is in session.