Debt-Free College for Connecticut StudentsJune 11, 2019
Connecticut has the third-highest accumulated student loan debt in the country and the financial burden that our college graduates must shoulder after growing up here is driving many of them to other states where housing and the cost of living is cheaper.
I grew up in France where higher education is more affordable. Students attending public universities in France typically pay zero or a few hundred dollars a year for tuition, so students do not accumulate the amount of debt U.S. students do.
The soaring debt of college is crushing not only our children and families, but also endangering our state economy and Connecticut’s future.
When our college grads decide they can’t pay off their student loans while living in Connecticut and we have to say goodbye to them, the finality of that loss ripples through our communities and drains the pool of talent that expanding companies need. Without a strong workforce, companies have to consider moving.
We must ensure that no student is denied the opportunity to earn a college degree or certificate in a skill because they cannot afford tuition and fees.
To protect Connecticut’s future and give everyone access to higher education, we included in the state budget a policy to allow students attending regional-technical colleges to graduate without debt and encourage them to start their careers in our state.
The legislation creates a plan for students to attend community college for three years or take 72 community college credit hours without accruing debt. Students attending community college for the first time in Connecticut will be eligible for an award that covers tuition costs and mandatory fees that are not already met by federal Pell grants or other state and institutional financial aid.
This program will help thousands of first-time students – regardless of income – attend college cost-free.