Brandi Kennedy, center, joins a social work class in the evening at the University of Connecticut in Hartford. At least six bills were proposed in the beginning of the 2022 legislative session that would relieve the financial burden of student debt. Yehyun Kim /

In testimony before the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee in support of House Bill 1044, Ben Shaiken of the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance cited a stark statistic on student debt.

“Whenever the federal public health emergency does completely wind up, about 10% of Connecticut’s residents will resume paying student loans that have been in forbearance for the last three years due to the pandemic,” Shaiken said. “That will pull almost $200 million a month out of our economy.”

Higher Ed is just one of several committees considering legislation to help ease the burden of educational debt — a burden, it’s clear, that extends to the overall economy.

The Banking Committee heard testimony from student advocates on a bill establishing education subsidies for health care workers and a bill that would create a student loan ombudsman’s office to provide support for people taking on education debt.

And the Commerce Committee considered legislation that would offer financial support for people seeking short-term skills training, including “wraparound services” like child care and rent assistance while they’re enrolled.

“Currently, the way we have workforce set up, a lot of the risk is put on the employee,” said Sen. James Maroney, D-Milford, who spoke in favor of the bill. “If you’re a student, you go and you pay for a program and hope you’re gonna get a job at the end, so you’re taking the risk.” The legislation would shift that risk to the state, Maroney said.

Related: Will CT students’ loan debt be forgiven? Supreme Court to decide


Erica covers economic development for CT Mirror. Before moving to Connecticut to join the staff she worked in Los Angeles for public radio’s Marketplace and, before that, for the Wall Street Journal's L.A. bureau. She grew up in Minneapolis, MN, graduated from Haverford College and earned a master’s in journalism from the University of Southern California.