HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Student loan debt in Connecticut is the highest in the nation. It’s been described as a student loan crisis and now the state is moving to help. Access to higher education has been described as the ticket to the middle class, but it is the second largest source of debt, after home mortgages, that most people have.
The annual migration of thousands of students back to Connecticut college campuses has pretty much concluded. Whether looking forward to their final year or the first, one of the things many have in common is anxiety about payments they’ll have to make for years to pay off their student loans.
For over thirty years, the State of Connecticut has offered student loan help through the ‘Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority,’ known as CHESLA. The current rate is 4.95 percent.
Today, the Governor signed a law that will make CHESLA’s low interest rates available to those who have graduated, but are stuck with high payments.
“A key component of the act is that it gives us the ability to do refinancing of existing student debt. We hope to have it available in the spring of 2016,” said Jeantte Weldon, the Executive Director of CHESLA.
“When I look out at my peers, people my age, people younger, they are unable to start new businesses, they are unable to buy houses and in some cases are unable to start families,” said State Representative Matt Lesser (D-Middletown), who helped to write the new law.
The Governor went to the campus of the University of St. Joseph today where the new university President, Rhonda Free, was praising the move.
“For people who are thinking of going to college this reduces their anticipated costs with lowered interest rates. I think it also reassures some students and their parents,” said Free.
What’s reassuring for parents and students is a second law that will give the state Banking Commissioner jurisdiction over private student loan institutions. After signing the bill into law, Gov. Malloy said it will be, “Providing new protections for individuals in repaying their debts and making sure that our citizens are being treated fairly by properly run institutions.”
Click here for more information on the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority.