Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

March 12, 2019

Senator Anwar Lauds Advance of Debt-Free College Tuition Legislation

HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) lauded the advance of legislation that would provide financial relief for college students. On Tuesday, the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee voted to give Committee Bill No. 273, “An Act Concerning Debt-Free College,” a joint favorable report. That means legislators will continue to consider, and potentially adopt, the bill.

“We have a responsibility to invest in the future of our state and the next generation,” said Sen. Anwar. “If people have the potential to get the highest level of education, resources should not restrict them. I am excited about my fellow legislators who have taken a leadership role in identifying ways to make education more affordable and help our state do better.”

Committee Bill No. 273 provides a route to debt-free community college for a number of students. Under its drafted legislation, recent high school graduates who enroll in regional community-technical colleges would be able to graduate without student loans. The legislation would also encourage students to complete the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students would be required to maintain a GPA of at least 2.5, come from households with income of $150,000 or less and accept all available financial aid.

In testimony submitted to the Committee, Connecticut State Colleges & Universities President Mark Ojakian said nearly 60 percent of community college students already receive maximum Pell Grant funding, meaning their tuition, fees and book costs were covered by federal funding or they receive enough financial aid to cover tuition and fees. That means this legislation could go further, giving most students opportunities to graduate without outstanding debt.

In a country where student loan debt adds up to more than $1.5 trillion, according to testimony submitted by Senate Democrats, and where Connecticut has the third-most average student loan debt in the nation, student debt influences graduates’ mobility and the jobs they can pursue.

“In order for Connecticut to be a favorable option for [new graduates], it is critical that we as a state invest in our future,” said ten Senate Democrats who submitted testimony. “A fundamental pillar of our future is the young people growing up in Connecticut and the young people that may consider moving to Connecticut. We need this group to stay and grow Connecticut. Our businesses, our economy and our prosperity depend on it.”

“I’m also hopeful that this next generation of educated and talented youth is offered opportunities to continue to pursue their careers and lives in Connecticut, especially if they have had decreased cost of education or were tuition free,” said Sen. Anwar, who suggested additional legislation in the future could possibly require beneficiaries to remain or work in Connecticut for a period of time in return.