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Massachusetts Set to Increase Financial Aid to Low-Income Students:

Increasingly states are allocating more state funds to merit-based financial aid programs that benefit the middle class. These programs are popular with large numbers of white voters who are having difficulty meeting the cost of a college education for their children. Often these merit-based aid programs pull money away from need-based aid programs that benefit students from the lowest socioeconomic classes. Expectedly, students in this lower income group are disproportionately black.

But the state of Massachusetts is moving against the national trend. The state's chancellor of education has announced a plan which would divert $51 million from two state financial aid programs that benefit middle-class students to the Mass Grant program which provides financial aid only to families whose incomes are below $36,000. Under the proposal, each low-income college student would receive about $3,600 in state aid each year, the equivalent of tuition at a state-run community college. At the present time, the average amount of state aid for the neediest students is $1,600.

About 41,500 students currently receive state financial aid under the two programs that would be eliminated. Students from families with incomes as high as $80,000 per year were eligible for state financial aid.

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