The Road to Debt-Free Higher Education Begins in Connecticut

On March 21, H.B. 6162, An Act Concerning a Study of the Implementation of a Debt-Free Higher Education Program, passed through the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee. If implemented, the legislation would require the Office of Higher Education to conduct a study on the feasibility of implementing a debt-free higher education program for in-state students at public institutions. This would be the first step to guaranteeing that higher education is both accessible and affordable to Connecticut's residents.

   
Higher education is instrumental to a person's success. People in Connecticut with some college or an associate degree earn approximately $7,586 more per year than someone with just a high school diploma or equivalency.Additionally, in 45% of working families below 200% of the federal poverty level and 49% of families below 100% of the federal poverty level no parent has any post-secondary education.2, 3
Despite the importance of cultivating and maintaining a well-educated workforce in Connecticut, for many of Connecticut's residents, higher education is far beyond their financial reach or leaves them grappling with high amounts of debt. In 2014, 62% of graduates from Connecticut's public and private non-profit four-year institutions  graduated in debt due to loans for college education, and the average amount of debt for Connecticut's graduates is $29,750, the seventh highest amount among all fifty states. These numbers do not include those students who do not graduate but nevertheless are burdened with debt from higher education costs. Many students are unaware of the large amounts of debt they will incur when beginning their education and some who are aware are often dissuaded from pursuing higher education due to the hefty price tag.
This passage of this bill will begin the process of guaranteeing that all of Connecticut's residents have the opportunity to become a part of Connecticut's educated workforce and find financial security.


1 American Community Survey. 2014. "Median Earnings in the Past 12 Months (in Inflation-Adjusted Dollars) by Sex by Educational Attainment for the Population 25 Year and Over (Connecticut)."
2 Working Poor Families Project Compiled Data. 2015. "Percent of Working Families Below 200% Poverty in which No Parent has some Post-Secondary Education, 2013."
3 Working Poor Families Project Compiled Data. 2015. "Percent of Working Families Below 100% Poverty in which No Parent has some Post-Secondary Education, 2013."

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