Big break for incoming community college students: tuition, fees eliminated

Published on Wednesday, 5 February 2020 19:42


Gov. Ned Lamont announced in his State of State speech Wednesday that education at Tunxis and other community college will be debt-free for recent high school graduates, and that the University of Connecticut will eliminate tuition for all students from families earning less than $50,000 a year.

Community colleges will be able to get this done thanks to Pledge to Advance Connecticut. PACT was launched in December as the state Board of Regents for Higher Education adopted a policy to making the state’s 12 community colleges tuition- and fee-free for many students. Funding for PACT was included in the state’s 2019-20 budget.

“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,” said Mark Ojakian, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities president, when the policy was adopted.

Ojakian said, “PACT will make access to Connecticut’s community college system even more affordable while maintaining excellence in education. 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.”

“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,” he added.

“PACT is the culmination of so much hard work, and I’m so proud that it’s now an official promise made to Connecticut’s future students,” said state Sen. Will Haskell, D-Westport, co-chair of the state legislature’s Higher Education and Employee Advancement Committee.

“As college education costs continue to rise, we need to protect our students from financial harm and provide businesses with the skilled workforce they need to succeed,” Haskell said. “This is an incredible resource that will create a new educational pathway and opportunity for so many students. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the legislature and in the CSCU system for making affordable higher education a reality for thousands of students.”

Students planning to enter Tunxis or one of the other community colleges this fall must complete FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) by July 15 to be PACT-eligible.

To qualify, students must be Connecticut high school graduates, which includes those who have earned a GED or were home schooled; planning to attend college for the first time and full-time; have filled out FAFSA and accepted all awards; enroll in college by July 15 for priority consideration; and once enrolled, remain in good academic standing.

Students meeting those criteria can attend any community college in Connecticut for up to three years free of mandatory tuition and fees related to eligible programs. Awards are limited to fall and winter/spring semesters and are available regardless of family income.

PACT awards go into effect after all other sources of financial aid, though student loans, work-study programs and financial assistance for non-tuition and fees expenses are not considered 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.

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Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, State on Wednesday, 5 February 2020 19:42. Updated: Wednesday, 5 February 2020 19:44.