Does he drink hot drinks? If he wants good coffee, a French press might be a good idea. If he drinks tea or cocoa packets, then an electric kettle is a good idea. If he drinks real cocoa, then he will need to use someone else's microwave. Mug. Spoon. Knife for spreading peanut butter or whatever. A plate is good, but the more dishes, the more dirty dishes tend to accumulate, so minimalist might be better.
He will need hiking boots for the salty, slushy, snowy streets in winter. A really nice brand of socks is Smartwool. They are robust and non-sweaty (a problem with hiking boots in classrooms). He will want a parka, hat, and gloves. He will need an umbrella. A "shell" can double as a spring jacket and raincoat.
If he is an athlete, he will need plenty of workout clothes because doing laundry is inconvenient.
He is going to a city, so buying consumable things like laundry detergent and toiletries shouldn't be hard.
Does MIT have specifications for calculators and laptops? My son's tech school dealt with the whole hacking/cheating issue by making almost everything collaborative and having a wacky grading system. I don't know how MIT deals with it. The problem with a tech school is that a portion of the students are going to be hackers, good and curious ones, and even if they aren't outright trying to cheat, they may not have bought into the "system", since the typical US school social system may already have made them outcasts. I imagine he already has this figured out, if he is the mathy student I am thinking he is? But it might be worth double checking?
School supplies like notebooks should be easy to get on campus, but if he is persnickety about some of them (like notebook size), then he might want to bring that with him instead of letting Grandma.
If he doesn't care what he looks like, he probably won't need that much in the way of clothing - a hoodie, a few pairs of pants, bathingsuit, shorts (if he wears them), workout clothes if he needs them or has a gym class, enough teeshirts that he doesn't get to doing laundry one week he will survive, socks, sandals, sneakers, boots, and outdoor stuff. If Grandma is 12 hours away, she may not know what students are wearing in Boston. It depends which direction she is. If she is 12 hours south, she might not. If she is 12 hours north, she probably can guess. I don't know anything about west. (My world is the area two hours from the coast going north from Boston about 6 hours. By car.)
AS mentioned, he will need extra long sheets. Will he use a top sheet? Or just a duvet? Remember that his bed is probably going to be his main living surface. A bedspread might be a good idea? One of my children avoided the whole issue by using a cheap sleeping bag that he put through the wash every once in awhile. He put a bottom sheet under it. He will need enough pillows that he can sit up in bed. If he isn't a desk person, a lap board or large tray or something for a bed work surface is good.
Desk lamp, waste basket, and extension cords.
Toiletries and a bucket or something to get them back and forth to the bathroom.
Whatever games he likes (a good way to make friends).
Stackable milk crates are great for holding books. You can build bookcases out of them and store the books in them in the summer.
My boys tended not to put their clothes away after doing laundry, so more than one laundry basket was essential - one for clean and one for dirty. They are good for carrying bedding and stuff in and out of the dorm, too. Nesting works better. Tall thin ones are not good if you are fishing in them for your clean clothes.
He will want a fan. Definitely. For white noise, if not for the coolth. His dorm may or may not be air conditioned and Boston can be hot in Sept.
He will need good headphones, ones that block out the noise.
He will need a good bookbag.
Depending on what sort of learner he is, a whiteboard and markers can be nice. And/or a large calendar.
Those are the things my boys took.