Proposed Free Connecticut Community College Program Could Cost $10M in First Two Years

According to a price estimate by the Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA), a proposed program that would allow continued subsidized community college tuition and fees in Connecticut would cost between $3.7 million and $4.1 million in the first year and $5.7 million to $6.5 million in the second year.

The program would give grants that focus on eliminating any tuition and fees (after federal, institutional and state aid is included) that students are currently paying. The minimum grant amount is estimated to be $500.

Students eligible for the program would need to be classified as in-state and who graduated from a Connecticut high school within two years of enrolling in community college, according to the Hartford Business.

Students are also required to be enrolled full-time at the community college, maintain at least a 2.5 GPA and complete the FAFSA application.

The bill, Senate Bill 273 or An Act Concerning Debt-Free College, has passed the state committee, but has not yet been presented to the House or Senate.

Many other states across the country are offering some type of free community college, with the hopes of increasing educational opportunities and economic competitiveness.

Similar to Connecticut’s proposed program, most U.S. states free-college programs do not cover a student’s living expenses. There is, however, an active debate regarding if schools should provide additional funds to the lowest-income students, whose tuition is typically fully covered but struggle to graduate as a result of financial issues, or if it should be allocated to middle-class students, Hartford Business reported.

Another Connecticut bill, House Bill 7161, strives to provide similar funding for both associate and bachelor’s degree students has recently passed the state committee. The bill, also called An Act Establishing Finish Line Grants, would provide University of Connecticut, four universities within the Connecticut State College and Universities system, 12 community colleges and Charter Oak State College with grants.

Eligibility for this program is similar to S.B. 273, but because H.B. 7161 includes four-year degrees, the costs would be higher; as much as $93.2 million in the first two years if approved, according to OFA.

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