‘It’s great to see this level of investment’: Free community college tuition for nursing students
HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Last month, Governor Maura Healey signed the fiscal year 2024 budget into law. Part of that included free tuition for nursing students at community colleges across the Bay State. We’re finding out how the new program will work and why nursing students feel it’s important as the industry battles staffing shortages.
”I’m really excited, I am actually more motivated to start this program knowing that I will get some sort of help,” said Gulmira Niayazova, a nursing student at Holyoke Community College.
Nursing students at community colleges across the commonwealth can qualify for free tuition starting this fall and students locally are breathing a sigh of relief.
“At STCC with our program, it allows them to focus on the actual nursing career without having to worry about working to pay for the nursing program,” added Malak Elkadri, a nursing student at Springfield Technical Community College.
“I think it will have more people wanting to join the nursing field and go through school,” expressed Amber Fernandez a nursing student at Holyoke Community College. “Especially for people like me I have three small children.”
The new piece of legislation was signed into law by Governor Maura Healey as part of the fiscal year 2024 budget. It grants $18 million to nursing students in community colleges. Students at Holyoke Community College told Western Mass News what this means to them.
“They can focus a little more on themselves because it’s a demanding job,” noted Joseph Bartolucci, a nursing student at Holyoke Community College. “So, it’s really going to help the graduated students and help them care for themselves a little bit more.”
“It feels great to know that I could graduate with potentially no debt,” said Vincent Bartolucci, a nursing student at Holyoke Community College.
They said it will be help with staffing shortages in hospitals and medical facilities across the state.
“Nurses now, the burn out rate is real,” added Bartolucci.
Professors with Holyoke Community College’s nursing program told us this is a major advancement for the nursing industry.
“There’s fewer restrictions for it so that will increase accessibility for training, for becoming nurses and entering the workforce, and hoping to help with this shortage that is impacting all of our facilities in Massachusetts,” explained Tina Jacques, a nursing professor at Holyoke Community College.
Over at Springfield Technical Community College, President John Cook told us their nursing program has almost 100 students enrolled and runs for two years where they eventually become a registered nurse.
“It just changes their thinking around college,” noted President Cook. “Nursing comes to mind because it is such a high demand profession right now. Really taking some of the questions out, every dollar amount matters.”
The details and eligibility requirements for the funding are still being worked out, but President Cook said this new legislation is historical for community colleges, opening up new opportunities for many.
“Nursing and healthcare really is on a lot of people’s minds, it’s great to see this level of investment,” expressed President Cook. “This type of funding really goes a long way.”
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