September 23, 2019

Higher Education Committee Co-Chairs Rep. Haddad and Sen. Haskell Begin Tour of State Community College Debt-Free Tuition Discussions, Announce Full Schedule

State Representative Gregg Haddad (D-Mansfield) and State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) this week started a tour of state community colleges that will continue into November. The legislators will host a series of discussions centering around the state’s upcoming debt-free community college program. Rep. Haddad and Sen. Haskell will visit Middletown, Bridgeport, Manchester, Waterbury and Enfield for these discussions, meeting with current and future students, school officials and the public to discuss details and future guidelines of the debt-free program.

The tour began on Monday with a visit to Danielson’s Quinebaug Valley Community College. The remaining schedule for stops, subject to change, is as follows:

  • October 9 at 1:30 p.m.: Housatonic Community College, Bridgeport, Events Center
  • October 17 at 2 p.m.: Manchester Community College, Manchester, GPA Community Commons
  • October 23 at 12:30 p.m. – Middlesex Community College, Middletown, Chapman Hall, 2nd Floor
  • October 30 at 10 a.m.: Naugatuck Valley Community College, Waterbury, Community Room in Founders Hall
  • November 1 at 10:30 a.m.: Asnuntuck Community College, Enfield, Conference Center

“The General Assembly and the Governor have agreed to provide enough scholarship funding to every first-time Connecticut student at a Community College to reduce out-of-pocket costs to zero,” said Rep. Haddad. “Meeting this goal will put a college degree or work-skill certificate within reach for every student. And it will increase the financial stability of our community college system while helping to meet Connecticut employers’ workforce needs.”

“We have one critical step that remains,” Rep. Haddad said. “The legislation identifies a funding source that, if approved, would grow to be substantial enough to fully fund the program. The Governor is currently vetting that solution and the legislature must act on his recommendation to fulfill the promise made in last year’s bill.”

“Student debt in Connecticut skyrocketed over the last decade. This holds our state back as young people try to start a family, buy their first home or start a business. That’s why we included debt-free community college in the budget. We know students are the best investment we can make.” said Sen. Haskell. “Representative Haddad and I are dedicated to meeting Connecticut’s workforce needs by investing in community college, and we are incredibly excited to begin this tour in advance of the debt-free rollout. I can’t wait to start talking to educators and students about making education more affordable and accessible.”

The state’s debt-free community college program is scheduled to begin in September 2020, with qualifying students needing to have graduated from a Connecticut high school, be enrolled in classes full-time, achieve academic success and accept all other available financial aid. The program is part of the 2019-2020 two-year state budget; projections state the program could increase federal aid in Connecticut by up to $7.7 million and increase current community college enrollment by anywhere from 10 to 45 percent, reinvigorating the important regional educational institutions.