A windfall for students wishing to attend community college in Connecticut took a step forward last week when the Board of Regents for Higher Education approved a one-time $3 million payment that will allow eligible students to access free community college tuition for the fall 2020 semester.

State Senator Will Haskell (D-26) and State Representative Gregg Haddad (D-54) developed the program Pledge to Advance Connecticut (PAC) last year for this free tution intitiative.

“It's hard to put into words how important and historic this news is,” Haskell said in an issued statement. “The rising cost of college will no longer prevent students from pursuing higher education in Connecticut.”

Under the PAC program, students from all financial backgrounds are eligible, as long as they are first-time college students and have graduated from public or private high schools in Connecticut.

Applications for the program are due by July 15.

This funding is expected to cover all applicants in the community college system. Currently, while 60 percent of students receive enough financial aid to attend schools for free, a year's tuition at a Connecticut community college costs about $5,000.

“At a time of economic crisis for so many families, I'm proud to live in a state that's investing in a 21st century workforce,” said Sen. Haskell. “I've visited community colleges across Connecticut, and I've seen first-hand the exceptional opportunities that they provide. Now, those opportunities will be available to all. I look forward to continuing this work and securing funding to keep this important program available to generations to come.”