Students attending college in CT this year may find themselves in a financial crisis, as the gap between tuition and available financial aid grows wider. This has state politicians calling for solutions to the problem.
The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Board of Regents approved increases of college tuition up to 5% (universities) and 3.5% (community colleges) in 2016—the highest in the country. On top of this, the state is seeing a $1.3 billion deficit in their main spending account, affecting the amount of financial aid that the state can offer to students seeking higher education.
The state attempted to curb the rising student loan debt by allowing borrowers to refinance and consolidate student debt, dropping interest rates, and decreasing monthly payment amounts. Despite this, the state still has greater student loan debt than almost anywhere else in the nation. This fact is apparent when looking at the sort of colleges in Connecticut. For instance, it is home to a prestigious Ivy League school, Yale, and other highly-ranked smaller institutions referred to as “Little Ivies.”
In addition to this problem, there is a high rate of rejected transfer credits for in-state students who transfer out of community college. Many transfer students find that their credits do not transfer to four-year public and private schools, effectively forcing students to take and pay for classes twice. Interestingly enough, a story by wnpr, a CT public media source, mentions that professors even have discretion over credit transfer approval at some public universities.
It is clear that credit transfers are an issue that catalyzes student loan debt. Low-income students who are forced to attend community colleges are possibly subjected to less earning potential down the road. Spurred on by this possibility, many of these students choose to transfer. Those who transfer face the prospect of taking out more loans to cover redundant classes, and those who do not are at greater risk of limited earning potential and diminished prospects for employment. Both increase the probability of defaulting down the road on student loans.
Taking all of this into account, it is easy to see how the supposed tuition hike in Connecticut can lead to increased student loan problems for the entire state. Trends such as this are not unique to Connecticut; in fact, Connecticut is third behind Pennsylvania and New Hampshire for highest student loan debt per graduate. Nationally, tuition is increasing across the board according to College Board. Naturally, the issues in Connecticut can be easily translated to all other states and colleges across the country.