A broken tuition reimbursement program exposed by FOX Undercover has finally been fixed.
The board of trustees for the Commonwealth Covenant Fund has awarded nearly $200,000 in grants to dozens of graduates.
FOX Undercover reported in February that it was impossible for anyone to get any money because the board had not met even once since Treasurer Steve Grossman took office at the beginning of 2011.
For his part, Grossman is no longer making excuses about what happened.
"Well there's no question we should have constituted this board earlier in my tenure," said Grossman after the board recently awarded 38 graduates from STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) $5,000 each to pay down their student loans.
It was quite a change for Grossman who in February had conflicting explanations about why the board had not met and why Grossman had not filled seven board vacancies.
"I think when you put a board in place you want to have some sense of the strategy that the board will be asked to implement," Grossman told FOX Undercover's Mike Beaudet in February, blaming the delay in awarding money on the fact that he'd been working on that strategy for the program since he took office.
"This program is one that I truly wanted to wrestle with and wanted to think through strategically what were our options," said Grossman at the time.
But in the next breath Grossman told FOX Undercover that the new board would come up with the strategy.
"I'd like to bring a board together. Let them think through strategically what makes sense," said Grossman.
The new board is now in place and got down to business right away at its first meeting by awarding the grants to STEM field graduates as an incentive to keep them in the state.
Steve Dalton is one recent graduate who received an award.
The father of two graduated with a math degree from UMass Lowell in 2008 and runs his own math tutoring business
He called FOX Undercover earlier this year, frustrated that nothing had happened two years after he registered for the fund.
"Sure it would be nice to have the money, but for me it's about the principle of the state having a program and then not going through with the program," said Dalton at the time.
Dalton says Grossman called him personally to tell him he was awarded the money.
"Did you think you'd see this day?" asked FOX Undercover's Mike Beaudet.
"You know, honestly, no," replied Dalton.
"Do you think anything would have changed if you hadn't spoken out?" said Beaudet.
"I don't think so. No. They had no reason to listen to me,' said Dalton.
There's now about $89,000 left in the fund.
Treasurer Grossman says he plans to go to the legislature and the private sector to try and get more money into the fund so that more college graduates can benefit.
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