CSCU commits to Connecticut’s free community college initiative

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In December the Pledge to Advance Connecticut (PACT), the state’s free community college program, was officially adopted as a policy by the board of regents for higher education.

According to Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) PACT is a “last-dollar scholarship that makes Connecticut’s 12 community colleges tuition and fee free for students who meet certain criteria.

“At a time when we face a student debt crisis in the United States, this represents a great opportunity for potential students to access a high quality education close to home with no out-of-pocket costs,” said Mark Ojakian, president of CSCU. “PACT is a powerful message to potential students in Connecticut that education is attainable and that we are investing in the future of our state.”

To qualify students must be a Connecticut high school graduate, a full-time student attending college for the first time, complete the free federal application for financial aid and accept all awards, remain in good academic standing, and apply and register by July 15, 2020 for priority consideration.

“PACT is the culmination of so much hard work, and I’m so proud that it’s now an official program,” said Senator Will Haskell, co-chair of the general assembly’s high education committee. “As college education costs and student loan debt continue to rise, we need to protect our students from financial harm. This is an incredible resource that will create a new educational pathway and opportunity for so many students.”

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PACT will officially begin in the fall of 2020, and will allow Connecticut residents to attend any of the state’s community colleges for up to three years, free of mandatory tuition and fees related to an eligible program of study.

PACT awards are only applicable for the fall, winter, and spring semesters. Awards are available regardless of family income levels.

Officials explained that PACT awards are made after all other sources of federal, state, and institutional financial aid grants are expended. For the purposes of awarding the program, student loans, work-study programs of any type, and financial assistance dedicated to expenses beyond tuition and fees are not considered to be financial aid. Students who already have their eligible institutional costs covered by an existing financial aid package will be eligible for a $250 minimum award each semester.

“PACT will make access to Connecticut’s community college system even more affordable while maintaining excellence in education,” said Ojakian. “It is our pledge to support the state’s advancement with productive citizens and skilled workers prepared to fill the jobs of the 21st century economy.”

To learn more, potential students can visit ct.edu/pact.