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More than 16,000 qualify for state college tuition waivers

BOSTON --More than 16,000 Massachusetts high school seniors have qualified for free tuition at one of the 30 state colleges and universities, Gov. Mitt Romney announced Friday.

The students earned the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship for their performance on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Systems tests. All permanent Massachusetts residents who earn an "advanced" score in either the English or math portion of the test and "proficient" or higher in the other subject, and rank in the top 25 percent of students in their district, are eligible for four years of free tuition at a state public college or university.

"Talented and hardworking students, particularly those faced with economic challenges, deserve whatever financial help we can give them," Romney said to 131 students eligible for the scholarship at the O'Bryant School for Math and Science. "They have earned it with their good grades, and we want to make it easier for them to pursue their college education right here in Massachusetts."

More than 40,000 students have been eligible for the scholarship since the program began in 2004.

Scholarship recipients must maintain a 3.0 grade point average and finish college in four years.

Average tuition at the University of Massachusetts is $1,618. At state colleges it is $954 and $734 at community colleges. The scholarship does not cover fees, which average $7,079 at UMass, $4,494 at state colleges and $2,743 at community colleges.

State Education Commissioner David Driscoll said the cost of higher education often deters people from pursuing a degree.

"I hope this scholarship opportunity will take away at least some of that concern for this year's recipients and encourage them to pursue a degree at one of the Commonwealth's public institutions," he said.

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