The academic quad at Southern CT State University in New Haven
Connecticut students will gain automatic admission to the state’s four regional universities if they meet certain criteria. Above, the campus of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. Connecticut Public Radio
Connecticut students will gain automatic admission to the state’s four regional universities if they meet certain criteria. Above, the campus of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. Connecticut Public Radio

Deep in the 837-page budget implementation bill scheduled for a vote Tuesday by the Senate is a provision that would create an automatic admissions process for in-state high school graduates to attend Connecticut’s four regional universities.

Initially part of a number of legislative proposals introduced by Gov. Ned Lamont at the beginning of the year, the initiative would require the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities board of regents to establish the automatic admissions program by April 1, 2022 for any student in the state finishing their education at a public or non-public school.

The bill states that both a standard grade point average and a minimum class ranking percentile will be used to determine if a student is qualified to participate in the program. What those exact numbers will be are still being worked out, and the final threshold for admissions will be left to the board of regents to determine.

“The Governor’s Office worked hard with our institutional research experts to look at the experiences of other states and build a model that ensures equity and access utilizing a blended class rank percentile, no application fees, and a streamlined application process,” Sean Bradbury, director of government relations for the community colleges and state universities, said in an email. “Our university leaders are excited to see this legislation pass and are eager to get to work on designing and building out this important program.”

The automatic admissions program guarantees a spot for students at a four-year university, but it would not guarantee students a spot in a bachelor’s degree program that may require certain prerequisites, such as nursing and engineering programs. The four regional universities are Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven and Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic.

Other colleges and universities in the state will also be allowed to participate in the program and can follow the academic threshold and application process developed by CSCU, or they can adopt their own academic requirements.

Mike Enright, a University of Connecticut spokesperson, said UConn does not plan on participating in the program, because it was decided that the best path forward for the university is to focus its “efforts on the pathway for students attending the state’s Alliance Schools.”

That pathway is the Alliance Pathway Program that Lamont and outgoing UConn President Tom Katsouleas announced in February. Beginning in fall 2022, the program will be open to students in the top 10% of their class ranking at high schools in the state’s 33 lowest-performing districts, and the top 10% of students at those schools whose families are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Several of the state’s private colleges testified in favor of the provision in March when it was included in Senate Bill 881 — which passed the Senate on June 2 on a 30-5 vote. Colleges testifying in favor of the bill included the University of Saint Joseph, University of Hartford, Quinnipiac University, Sacred Heart University and Fairfield University.

“Connecticut’s independent colleges are committed to providing access and opportunity to Connecticut students like our public counterparts,” said President of the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges Jennifer Widness, adding that nine of the state’s independent colleges are already working with CSCU to streamline admissions for community college transfer students through the Independent College Transfer Guarantee — a program that offers guaranteed admissions for transfer students who are qualified.

“We look forward to providing similar, streamlined admissions for Connecticut high school students through engaging with the Automatic Admission’s program.”

Adria was CT Mirror's Education and Community Reporter. She grew up in Oakland, graduated from Sacramento State where she was co-news editor of the student newspaper, and worked as a part-time reporter at CalMatters. Most recently Adria interned at The Marshall Project, a national nonprofit news organization that reports on criminal justice issues. Adria was one of CT Mirror’s Report For America Corps Members.