Representative Paris Applauds Passage of HB 6901 - Student Loan Bill

June 1, 2023


HB 6901 would reimburse up to $20,000 if a borrower meets certain criteria


The Connecticut House of Representatives took a big step Thursday when it comes to student debt. The House voted 113-44 to pass HB 6901, "An Act Concerning a Student Loan Reimbursement Program for Certain Professions."

HB 6901 was amended to expand on who could access the program, opening it up to include all professions. The bill would establish a loan reimbursement pilot program for Connecticut residents who graduated from a state college, university, or vocational/trade school.

The legislation would help Connecticut residents hardest hit by the student loan debt crisis, by reimbursing up to $20,000 if the borrower:

1) graduates from any Connecticut-based college or university (including vocational/trade schools);

2) resident of Connecticut for not less than five years;

3) performs 50 hours of volunteer service per year;

4) reimbursement up to $5,000 annually;

5) income caps of $125,000 for individuals and $175,000 for joint filers

State Representative Corey Paris (D-Stamford) served as the bill's proponent in the House Chamber.

"Student loan debt is one of the consequential national issues," said Rep. Paris. "Once again, Connecticut has proven that we can lead on divisive issues with bipartisan compromises to create inclusive and equitable policy."

"This bill is an economic participation bill. This bill puts $6 million back into the economy," said State Representative Eleni Kavros DeGraw (D-Avon, Canton), who is a co-sponsor of the bill. "We know the people who are carrying the most significant debt – the most student loan debt – happen to live in CT. Connecticut is the fifth-highest debt holder in the country, with nearly $17.8 billion held among 500,000 borrowers. This significantly affects Black and Brown communities and women in regard to their ability to participate fully in the economy. It impacts the ability to buy a house, buy a car, or start a family. When we say this is an economic participation bill, we mean it."

"We must remain steadfast in focusing on the attraction of young people and families, the retention of Connecticut college students for our growing workforce, and the economic participation of every Connecticut resident through the empowerment of increasing opportunities to create and increase one's wealth and ability to achieve milestones," said Rep. Paris. "This legislation honors all of these endeavors, which are critical to building a more equitable and prosperous future for all of Connecticut."

Recent grads - who would help make Connecticut younger, more vibrant, and more economically attractive - are drowning in debt through no fault of their own because of wage stagnation and runaway costs, said State Representative Christine Palm (D-Chester).

"At its essence, this bill addresses a terrible math problem that is generational in nature. In 1977, when Boomers were in college, the federal minimum wage was $2.30. But the effective buying power (per the CPI) of that wage was $5.90," said Rep. Palm, who co-sponsored the bill. "In contrast, today’s federal wage is $7.25, but because of inflation, that hourly rate has a current effective buying power of around $4.50. Factor in the rate at which the cost of education has soared. In 1977, you could go to a pretty good private school for about $20,000 for four years. If that cost had advanced only at the rate of other inflationary indicators, a four-year degree today would cost about $92,000. But it doesn’t. It costs a whopping $309,000 on average."

"Student loan debt has tripled over the last decade," said Rep. Paris. "This debt has exacerbated the paycheck-to-paycheck epidemic that plagues working families and young people."

"Connecticut’s economic future depends on its highly talented and educated young people, many of whom are saddled with crippling student loan debt," said State Representative Gary Turco (D-Newington, New Britain), a co-sponsor of the bill and member of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee. "HB 6901 would ease the debt burden so young people can lay down roots, securing the highly trained and talented workforce our state needs to thrive. Debt should not follow borrowers for years. This legislation helps people move forward."

HB 6901 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

The U.S. Supreme Court has not issued a decision regarding student debt forgiveness at the federal level.


HB 6901 passes in the House