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Move To Massachusetts For Free Tuition? What About Fees?

I really enjoy when CheapScholar.org gets to showcase great tuition deals across the nation. I especially like it when I hear the word FREE combined with tuition.

Last week, the University of Massachusetts – Lowell (UML) just offered a free tuition option for students looking to transfer in from local community colleges this coming Fall Semester. This new program (referred to as Advantage Plus) will provide up to four semesters of free tuition (which should be enough for most students to complete their bachelor’s degree requirement).

The following are the qualifying requirements for the free tuition offer:

  • Must be a graduate from one of 15 Massachusetts Community Colleges
  • Students must have and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher

The current in-state annual tuition rate at UML is $1,454. So a student could potentially save about $3,000 over the span of two years while they complete their bachelors degree. Seems like a pretty descent offer right? Well… as Paul Harvey says “and now for the rest of the story”…

Even though UML is offering free tuition, this population of students will still be responsible for annual fees totaling over $9,000 and if they plan on living and eating on campus, that will be an additional $9,000. So, they get $1,454 in free tuition each year but could experience about $18,000 in extra expenses…ugh. Doesn’t sound like such a great deal anymore.

The basis of this story is that it is important for you to inquire about ALL the fees being charged by the colleges that you are looking at attending (Tuition, Room, Board, and Fees). In the case of UML, they have amazingly cheap tuition but they will quickly depress your college savings with their fees. Other schools may have reasonably high tuition rates but little to no fees. So be smart and try to compare apples to apples when looking at college costs and not apples to oranges.

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