The Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston will become the first private college to participate in a city program that helps pay the tuition of low-income students this fall semester.
Until now, the Tuition-Free Community College Plan has paid tuition and mandatory fees only at three community colleges in Boston or Wellesley.
Students who want to enroll in the program must be Boston residents who have either graduated from a high school in the city, graduated as a Metco student, or passed a high school equivalency exam. Students must also qualify for federal Pell Grants and meet guidelines for low to moderate household income set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mayor Marty Walsh said at a news conference at the South End college on Wednesday that the program is already available to students at Bunker Hill Community College and Roxbury Community College in Boston, and at MassBay Community College in Wellesley.
"It's the third year. We're expanding now to a private institution," Walsh said. "So, it's kind of like we're taking the next step because we're seeing the success of the program."
The mayor also stressed the deadlines to graduate and the GPA requirements attached to the program.
"It's gonna push you," Walsh said. "But, again, you're not in high school anymore. It's a step into real life. So it's about, you've got to push yourself to hit those numbers. That's the point behind it."
Since the program began in 2016, 316 students have participated, Walsh said.
Anthony Benoit, president of Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT), also noted students have to meet the stipulations for the program.
"They need to be accepted at BFIT ... and plan to enroll. Then they come here, they get their federal aid and state aid, but they don't have to take any money out of their pocket for tuition," Benoit said. Tuition and fees for most students at the school, known for its auto technicians program, is $16,950, according to the BFIT's website.
Benoit praised Walsh for recognizing that the city needs to provide more opportunities to low-income residents.
"And he has been working to provide more opportunity," Benoit said. "And I think this program, generally, is an example of that — that he sees higher education as a step forward."
In January, the private college, which was established in 1908, announced plans to sell its campus, which could be worth millions, and relocate elsewhere in the city.
“There’s a great deal of interest," Benoit said. "The property has been listed now formally, and there are many dozens of people inquiring, is what I hear."
"On the site search, we’re looking at, I would say, one to two dozen locations within Boston proper in the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury, Hyde Park, Mattapan," he added. "And so far, what we’re seeing is very promising, though there’s a lot of work still to be done.”