CT college students would support free tuition at state universi - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT college students would support free tuition at state universities

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New York will be the first state to make tuition at public colleges and universities free for middle-class students, so Eyewitness News looked to see if Connecticut could follow suit.

Some students in New York are breathing a big sigh of relief because they could qualify for free tuition at public colleges and universities under a state budget approved by lawmakers over the weekend.

In New York, to qualify, the student would have to meet certain class load and grade point restrictions while their family would have to make $100,000 or less. The plan was crafted by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The tuition plan would be phased in over three years and families will be eligible starting in the fall of this year.

The New York Governor's Office estimated a little less than one million families will qualify.

"I think it's a great idea,” Rosalina Santos, who is a student at Central Connecticut State University said. “College is really expensive students are struggling to pay for it."

"I think it would be great for people who can't afford it and I think it would be good for society to have smart people get a higher education,” Raphael Phillips, who is a student at Central Connecticut State University said.

While students at Central Connecticut State University told Eyewitness News were overwhelmingly in-favor of this plan, many wondered if that would be possible in especially when budgets are tight.

"I think conceptually it's an idea most people would agree on, or most people can get behind,” Maribel La Luz, who is the communications director of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, said.

La Luz explained to Eyewitness News free tuition doesn't eliminate the cost, it simply transfers the cost somewhere else.

"The cost of college has to be absorbed somewhere,” La Luz said. “If it's not the students, who is it going to be?"

In the current legislative session, Democratic State Rep. Matt Lesser of the 100th District has proposed a bill to study the feasibility of implementing a debt-free higher education program for in-state students attending public colleges.

"If there was a proposal to do that here, there would be a fair amount of discussion about who pays for this and how,” La Luz said. “Who's eligible for that and who's not."

La Luz said with the cost of college going up, they try their best to help students out any way they can.

"We did a tuition increase for two years, so students can plan better,” La Luz said.

They also have a dual program where high school students can get credit before attending college. La Luz added if this were to come up, it’s an idea they'd certainly entertain.

"Because what's best for the students is best for us,” La Luz said.

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