By Mark E. Ojakian
Last December, we were proud to launch the Pledge to Advance Connecticut (PACT), Connecticut’s free community college program. PACT will allow first time, full-time students to attend a community college at no cost beginning next fall.
Under PACT, Connecticut residents who meet certain eligibility criteria can attend any of Connecticut’s 12 conveniently located community colleges for up to three years free of mandatory tuition and fees related to an eligible program of study. To qualify, students must:
Be a Connecticut high school graduate (GED and home schooled students qualify);
Be a full-time student attending college for the first time;
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the standard application for federal financial aid, and accept all awards to receive PACT aid;
Attend community college full-time (12+ credits/semester);
Apply and register at a community college by July 15, 2020, for priority consideration;
Participate in a degree or credit-bearing certificate program, and;
Once enrolled, remain in good academic standing.
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 is a powerful message to potential students in Connecticut that education is attainable — and that we are investing in the future of our state. PACT will make access to Connecticut’s community college system even more affordable, while maintaining excellence in education.
PACT is a “last-dollar” funding scholarship that makes Connecticut’s 12 community colleges tuition and fee free. “Last dollar” funding means a PACT scholarship covers the gap between the federal, state, and institutional financial aid grants a student receives, and the cost of attending community college (tuition and mandatory fees).
PACT is our Pledge to Advance Connecticut through a unified, consistent community college system that is accessible, inclusive, and affordable — while maintaining excellence in education. We invite Connecticut residents to gain a degree or certificate towards reaching full potential, and creating a future filled with opportunity and achievement. An investment in education pays off not only for individuals, but for our state as a whole.
PACT is our pledge to support the state’s advancement — with productive citizens and skilled workers — who can fill the many jobs developed by our innovative business community. It is our pledge to advance the unity of our communities, working together to ensure Connecticut maintains its competitive edge; holding high standards and strengthening its entrepreneurial, innovative, and inventive spirit.
To learn more about PACT, potential students can visit ct.edu/pact.
Mark E. Ojakian is President of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities