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State Senator

Mae Flexer

Representing Brooklyn, Canterbury, Killingly, Mansfield, Putnam, Scotland, Thompson & Windham

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Senator Mae Flexer Leads Creation of Debt-Free Community College Program

Debt-free community college program will transform educational opportunities for students throughout Connecticut

HARTFORD, CT – After advocating and fighting for this legislation for 6 years, Senator Mae Flexer, Senate Vice Chair of the Higher Education & Employment Advancement Committee, joined Democratic leaders today to highlight the state budget’s plan for debt-free community college. Senator Flexer, a proud graduate of Quinebaug Valley Community College, has championed this proposal since first getting elected in the House of Representatives and has worked tirelessly since to make it a reality.

“This has been a long time coming and I’m thrilled to finally stand here alongside my colleagues with a robust plan for debt-free community college,” said Senator Flexer. “The impact of this proposal cannot be emphasized enough. Implementing a debt-free community college program will greatly expand educational opportunities to students and working families. It will transform our workforce by ensuring students are not burdened with debt when they graduate and will create a pipeline of educated and skilled workers to fill thousands of jobs in Connecticut. Our workforce and economy is stronger when more students have the chance to go to college, and this program will give countless students that chance. ”

“This proposal will help so many students across the state attend and graduate college in a timely manner,” said Alex Mason, a recent graduate from Quinebaug Valley Community College. “I began at QVCC six years ago, yet I just graduated last week. Due to the rising cost of tuition and because I had to work too, I could only afford to take one or two classes at a time, rather than a full semester. Still, I feel better off than some of my closest friends who are returning to Connecticut with over $100,000 of debt. This proposal will ensure that future students won’t have to take as long as I did to complete school and will have a better financial start than the students that came before them.”

As part of the state budget, high school graduates attending community colleges will have the opportunity to graduate from those institutions without accruing debt starting in the Fall of 2020. Students will be required to be in good academic standing and accept all available financial aid supplied to them. Current projections say the investment in community college programs could increase enrollment by up to 2,310 students in the first year, additionally helping nearly 7,000 students receive education without paying tuition or fees.

Many states across the country have passed similar legislation, including neighboring Rhode Island. In 2017, the Rhode Island General Assembly created the Rhode Island Promise Scholarship, which allows eligible students to attend the Community College of Rhode Island for up to two years tuition-free.

“As a graduate of Quinebaug Valley Community College, I know the value and wealth of opportunities that our community colleges provide to thousands of students across the state,” continued Senator Flexer. “But due to the rising cost in tuition, too many students are either unable to attend school in the first place, or they must limit the amount of classes they take, or leave college altogether. This is wrong. Higher education should not be available only to those students whose parents can write a check. This proposal makes Connecticut a leader in higher education among our neighboring states and underscores to the rest of the country the importance of educational opportunities for all students.”

 

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