Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) President Mark Ojakian today officially launched the Pledge to Advance Connecticut (PACT), Connecticut’s free community college program. PACT, which was included as a provision in the state’s biennial budget and adopted as a policy today by the Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR), is a last-dollar scholarship that makes Connecticut’s 12 community colleges tuition and fee free for students who meet certain criteria.
“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 President Ojakian. “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.”
PACT will support students who are entering the fall 2020 semester and beyond. To qualify, students must:
- Be a Connecticut high school graduate;
- Be 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 Higher 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. 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.”
“Connecticut’s students and their families can cheer yet another milestone along the way to making our community colleges free,” said Representative Gregg Haddad, co-chair of the General Assembly’s Higher Education Committee. “Today’s action by the Board of Regents is important to every family struggling to pay tuition bills. Connecticut’s free community college program, now called PACT, ensures that every student, no matter their background, can go to college if they wish.”
Beginning in Fall 2020, PACT allows Connecticut residents who meet certain eligibility criteria to attend any of Connecticut’s Community Colleges for up to three years free of mandatory tuition and fees related to an eligible program of study. Awards are only applicable to the fall and winter/spring semesters, and are available regardless of family income level. 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.
“Our community colleges provide the chance for our graduates to pursue a high quality postsecondary education, giving them new and exciting opportunities to find a rewarding career in Connecticut,” said East Hartford Superintended Nathan Quesnel. “The PACT program makes our community colleges even more affordable, giving students the chance to attend and graduate without out of pocket expenses. This is an important investment in students from East Hartford and across the state.”
To learn more, potential students can visit ct.edu/pact.