State Breaking Promise To Adopted Children

By WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve

BOSTON (CBS) – State law says many adopted kids are entitled to free tuition and fees at any state college.

However, Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve found out, once accepted, these kids are being told there is no money.

Catherine O’Malley of Marshfield adopted Alexis when she was nine years old.

“I can not believe that you go to court and these are the terms. I did not renege on my part of the agreement…here she is!”

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports

Yes. There she is, Alexis who is now 18-years-old. This past June Alexis graduated from Marshfield High School and was accepted into the arts program at Bridgewater State University.

State law says adopted children like Alexis are entitled to free tuition and fees at state colleges. The promise is right there in black and white and Catherine has all the paper work. But Bridgewater State said, sorry pay up.

Shortsleeve said, “but you had these letters and you showed them the letters?”

Catherine responded, “yes they had to have copies of them but the lady says, everyone brings them in but we don’t have the money.”

As for Alexis, what was supposed to be a guarantee is now in question.

“It is not fair at all, it kind of hurts!”

“I was like so, I got into a school. And now I actually might not be able to finish college. How am I supposed to go on with my life?”

So Catherine O’Malley had no choice. If she wanted Alexis to attend Bridgewater State in a few days she would have to come up with thousands of dollars in tuition and fees on her own which she is now trying to do.

Catherine says, “I just do not understand how this could be allowed to happen!”

So with no where to turn, Catherine asked for help from her State Senator, Robert Hedlund, who called the situation shameful.

Shortsleeve asked, “why are they not getting the money?”

Hedlund responded, “they are not getting it because the legislature under funds the program and consistently under funds the program so it is almost like bait and switch.”

So how many kids like Alexis are out there?

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education tells WBZ she is just one of 256 students statewide stuck with a broken promise.

In a statement to WBZ state education officials say:

“In the midst of challenging fiscal times, our Administration has tried to accommodate the educational needs of all Massachusetts residents, including families with adopted children and those in foster care. We will continue to fund a significant portion of public college and university fees as well as tuition payments, but full funding of these programs has not been possible given budgetary constraints.”

But Catherine O’Malley says, “this law is still on the books, but what does that mean when you pass a law and then you do not fund it? Why don’t they take the law off the books then? It is a sham!”

As for Alexis she has a question for state law makers. “Why would you make a promise that you really can’t keep?”

That is a great question.

State education officials tell WBZ at best, this school year, they will be able to cover only 50 to 55% of the promised fees for these kids. And keep in mind at state schools the fees are the really big number.

Fees are usually six or seven times the tuition.


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