UMass Creates ‘Honors-to-Honors’ Scholarships to Support Top Community College Students in the Commonwealth Honors College

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The University of Massachusetts Amherst has announced Honors-to-Honors, a new scholarship program that provides additional funding to honors graduates of the state’s 15 community colleges who are accepted into the university’s Commonwealth Honors College, to help them complete their bachelor’s degrees.

“I congratulate UMass Amherst on this visionary program which supports our Commonwealth’s distinguished students,” said Massachusetts Secretary of Education James A. Peyser.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst has announced Honors-to-Honors, a new scholarship program that provides additional funding to honors graduates of the state’s 15 community colleges who are accepted into the university’s Commonwealth Honors College, to help them complete their bachelor’s degrees.

For many in-state students, the scholarship awards are expected to nearly eliminate their loan obligations. The program provides a special $6,000 annual scholarship in addition to need-based aid from federal and state sources. To be eligible, students must be Massachusetts residents and either the first-generation college students or come from low-income households.

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy said, “I am delighted to expand our work with the Commonwealth’s outstanding community colleges and create another pathway into our integrated higher education system. In just a few years, these extraordinary young people will be the working men and women leading the Commonwealth into a better future. We can make no more honorable or productive investment.”

“I congratulate UMass Amherst on this visionary program which supports our Commonwealth’s distinguished students,” said Massachusetts Secretary of Education James A. Peyser. “It is important that we create a pathway to success for our community college students and create closer connections across all levels of higher education in Massachusetts. I fully support this type of collaboration and hope that it will become a model for other public colleges as well.”

“We are incredibly grateful that UMass Amherst has created a scholarship program for our honors graduates,” said Valerie Roberson, president of Roxbury Community College. “These scholarships will allow an impressive credential to become even more attainable for some of our top performers. We are thankful for this tremendous opportunity.”

Katherine Newman, UMass Amherst provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs noted, “Honors-to-Honors has been established in recognition of the outstanding preparation and high academic merit of honors students in the Commonwealth’s network of community colleges. Years of experience has shown that these students prosper at the university and are among its most outstanding recipients of bachelor’s degrees.”

This is the first time that UMass Amherst has created a scholarship program to support transfer honors students. It has long participated in transfer programs designed to encourage students to take advantage of the lower cost of community college education while completing their degrees at the flagship campus. But until now that has not been accompanied by special scholarship funds. The university is making an initial commitment that will be approximately $360,000 on an annual basis by 2016. If the program is successful, the flagship campus anticipates increasing its contributions to the fund, while seeking support from alumni and foundations to increase the number of scholarships available to these talented students.

Under the state’s MassTransfer program, students at the community colleges are guaranteed acceptance to state four-year colleges and universities if they participate in approved programs and meet certain criteria. Students eligible for Honors-to-Honors must graduate from an honors program in any of the state’s community colleges and be accepted into the Commonwealth Honors College. Students from community colleges without honors programs will be eligible to apply if they graduate as members of an equivalent “President’s List.”

The Commonwealth Honors College was established at UMass Amherst to recognize the achievements of the state’s most outstanding high school graduates and offers them a special curriculum composed of small classes and research opportunities in collaboration with members of the faculty. It is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier honors colleges and enrolls less than 15 percent of the university’s students.

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Ed Blaguszewski
UMass Amherst
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