Jorge Cabrera

State Senator

Jorge Cabrera

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together to Solve Problems

May 25, 2023


Today, state Senator Jorge Cabrera (D-Hamden) voted for the passage of Senate Bill 8, a flagship priority bill during this year’s legislative session. The bill makes higher education more affordable by expanding the state’s debt-free community college program to include returning students. It is estimated that the debt-free program would increase from 12,000 to 24,000 eligible students when the bill becomes law.

“Having a college education can be the difference in landing the job you want and falling just outside of an employer’s requirements, making this legislation crucial to the success of so many young people across our state,” said Sen. Cabrera. “I am pleased to support this bill’s passage as this bill creates endless possibilities for current and returning students’ future prospects in the job market.”

Senate Bill 8, “An Act Concerning Higher Education Affordability and Graduate Retention,” seeks to make the following changes to higher education in Connecticut:

It would expand the Pledge to Advance CT, which provides debt-free community college to first-time students in the state, to include returning students as well.

Thousands of students have been able to access community college without accruing debt since PACT began providing aid in 2020. This would allow students returning to college with previous experience to take advantage of this program as well.
The bill also increases minimum awards for students who have all of their costs paid from $250 to $500 per semester for full-time students and from $150 to $250 for part-time students per semester.

Students who go on medical leave, personal leave or active duty military service will remain eligible for benefits if they meet given requirements.
The bill also makes changes to the Roberta Willis Scholarship Fund, enabling schools to notify high school seniors about their scholarships while they’re deciding which college to attend. Current practice often results in students not knowing about their scholarship until their sophomore year in college. The changes will encourage Connecticut high school students to stay in Connecticut after high school.

The bill passed the Senate today by a 35-1 tally; it previously passed the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee by a 21-1 tally in March. It now heads to the House for further consideration.