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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.