UMass plans to triple early college enrollment over next five years, giving 2,000 high school students a head start on their college education

In his annual State of the University message, University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan today called for a three-fold expansion of enrollment in the university’s early college programs over the next five years.

UMass President Marty Meehan at Greater Lowell technical high school classroom

                                                    Watch President Meehan's 2024 State of the University Address

"Within the next five years, we plan to expand our early college initiatives to serve more than 2,000 high school students and broaden our early college reach to more rural areas of the state,” Meehan said in a 10-minute video message distributed to nearly 400,000 UMass students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters via email and the larger community via social media.

The UMass System’s early college initiative, the Commonwealth Collegiate Academy (CCA), was launched in Fall 2022, with 169 students at seven schools. CCA now has nearly 600 enrollments in 11 high schools: Brockton, Durfee (Fall River), Greater Lowell Technical, New Bedford, Revere, Taunton, Billerica, Argosy Collegiate, Dracut, Methuen, and Woburn.

This year’s State of the University message was recorded at Greater Lowell Technical High School, one of the university’s early college partners, where 75 students are getting a head start on their college education this semester, collectively earning 240 UMass credits in classes taught by UMass faculty.

Students at the 11 CCA high schools are projected to earn a total 1,736 credits from UMass Dartmouth and UMass Lowell this semester. Many will also have opportunities to visit their nearby UMass campus to learn more about the college experience and financial aid opportunities.

In addition, another 190 students are currently enrolled in early college classes offered by UMass Boston at Fenway, New Mission, and BCLA/McCormack high schools in Boston as part of a campus-led effort with plans to expand to two more Boston schools (Margarita Muniz Academy and Tech Boston Academy) next year. UMass Amherst is planning to launch its Commonwealth Collegiate Academy programs this fall.

UMass early college initiatives are funded by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, with additional support from the Smith Family Foundation.

In his message, President Meehan praised the Healey-Driscoll Administration and the Legislature for their support of increased financial aid for public higher education students and free community college tuition for students over age 25. He said diversifying the pathways to a four-year college degree is critical to attracting, developing, and sustaining a workforce that will keep the Commonwealth’s nation-leading innovation economy strong while accelerating socio-economic mobility across the state.

"Between our continued investment in financial aid, our expanding partnerships with community colleges, and our growing early college programs, UMass is demonstrating our deep, enduring and mission-driven commitment to accessibility and affordability,” Meehan said. “In a state like Massachusetts, driven by a knowledge and innovation economy, challenged by workforce shortages in important industries like healthcare and technology, and facing a declining population of college educated workers, expanding access to a college degree is critical to our collective future."

Earlier this year, President Meehan announced that the top 10 percent of the Commonwealth’s future community college graduates will receive a minimum of $5,000 per year above federal and private financial aid if they enroll at one of the four nationally ranked UMass campuses in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell.

Over the last decade, UMass has increased annual university-funded financial aid by 88 percent to $395 million, which has led to a reduction in average student debt and the percentage of students with any debt.