Governor Dannel P. Malloy, together with State Treasurer Denise L. Nappier, today discussed his proposals designed to make college more affordable for Connecticut citizens. Governor Malloy had previously unveiled plans to create the CHET Baby Scholars program and to increase funding for the Governor's Scholarship program during his State of the State address last month.
"In order to make college more affordable, I'm proposing the state offer a $250 incentive to encourage families to plan early for college," said Governor Malloy. "For children already in school, my budget also increases funding to the Governor's Scholarship program. These initiatives will help more Connecticut students afford college in the years ahead."
At a joint news conference at Naugatuck Valley Community College, Treasurer Nappier provided details of two initiatives of the Office of the Treasurer: the second phase of CHET Advance Scholarship, launched yesterday for high school juniors and sixth graders, and the CHET Dream Big! Competition for elementary school students.
House Bill 5048 would, if enacted, establish the CHET Baby Scholars Trust as a fund within the Office of the State Treasurer to encourage college savings for newly-born and adopted children. The State would provide a one-time investment of $100 to families of Connecticut children who open a tax-advantaged CHET 529 college savings account by the child's first birthday, or within the first year after adoption. Families that save another $150 dollars in the first four years will receive a state match of $150 for a total state investment of $250.
"We're talking about an initial contribution of $400 which could grow to $1,350 by the time the child reaches 18 -- an investment that can give parents a boost right when they need it most," continued Governor Malloy.
Treasurer Nappier, Trustee of the Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET), said, "CHET Baby Scholars is an important policy initiative that will further demonstrate our state's commitment to hard working families seeking a better future for their children, and will be a solid investment in the promise of our children. An educated workforce is key to the growth and vitality of our State. As college graduates return to take productive roles in our communities, they will help to ensure the sustainability of Connecticut's economic well-being."
The two CHET-related initiatives -- CHET Advance Scholarship and CHET Dream Big! -- will give students throughout Connecticut a chance to win college savings accounts between $500 and $2,500.
Through CHET Advance, up to 100 high school juniors with a GPA of at least 2.0 will be eligible for a $2,500 scholarship. In addition, up to 100 sixth graders will be awarded an initial $2,000 scholarship, with the opportunity to receive an additional $500 if the student's family saves $500 in a CHET account by the time the student goes to college.
The Dream Big! Competition will award three grand prizes of $1,000 CHET 529 college savings accounts -- the highest prize amount in the competition's history. An additional 60 students will win a $500 CHET account. Open to students in kindergarten through fifth grade, it is a drawing or essay contest about what they will do after college.
For CHET Advance Scholarships, the deadline to apply is April 30th at www.chetadvance.com. For CHET Dream Big!, the deadline is March 26th at www.chetdreambig.com.
"Dreams alone won't pay for college. It is my hope that CHET Baby Scholars, CHET Advance Scholarship and CHET Dream Big! can play a role for our State's children fulfilling their academic potential and realizing their dreams," Treasurer Nappier said.
"The mere existence of a college savings plan can positively influence a child's life. Studies have shown that children with a college savings account, of any amount, are seven times more likely to attend and graduate from college than those with no account," Governor Malloy said.
"The CHET Baby Scholars program is an important investment in our future that will pay for itself many times over by making college more affordable for Connecticut families," said Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden).
"By encouraging families to take advantage of the CHET System, we are allowing them to invest in their children's future and ease the burden of paying for college," said House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz (D--Berlin, Southington).
CHET is Connecticut's only state-sponsored 529 college savings plan. The plan has grown from 4,000 accounts with $18.5 million in assets in 1999, to more than 100,000 accounts with over $2 billion in assets today.
To help make college more affordable for families, the Governor's budget increases funding of the Governor's Scholarship by $2 million, bringing the total funds to more than $45 million to help more Connecticut students afford college.
"Through Transform CSCU 2020, the Board of Regents is committed to making the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system more affordable and accessible by reining in college costs, providing value, and ensuring that education is within reach of students in every community across the state," said Gregory Gray, President, Board of Regents for Higher Education. "We support Governor's Malloy's commitment to higher education investment as we create a world-class system of higher education."
Last year, Governor Malloy established a single, consolidated need-based aid program for residents who are undergraduates at in-state institutions of higher learning. The new Governor's Scholarship added a performance incentive award that raises aid amounts for students who excel academically. Both need- and merit-based awards are up to $4,500 a year for full-time 4-year programs and $3,500 for full-time two-year programs.