Committee Explores CHESLA Loan Eligibility Expansion
A General Assembly committee is considering legislation enhancing the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority lending capabilities.
The Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee heard testimony Feb. 18 on SB 103, which expands the type of post-secondary education programs eligible for CHESLA loans.
Under current law, CHESLA can only provide student loans for collegiate programs, excluding offerings such as certificate programs that are becoming increasingly important as individuals look to reskill or skill up in their careers.
CBIA applauds committee leadership for recognizing that post-secondary education is rapidly evolving, particularly in the past two years.
Micro-credentialing and short term certificate programs are becoming increasingly prevalent in industries like manufacturing and IT.
The CBIA/Marcum 2021 Survey of Connecticut Businesses found that 35% of employers believe the labor shortage is the greatest threat to growth.
Larger companies including Amazon, Google, and IBM, are utilizing short-term certificate programs to ensure employees have the right skills to be successful without high cost burdens.
Connecticut, through the Office of Workforce Strategy and the Connecticut State College and University system, recently partnered with Amazon Web Services to provide cloud technology training for more than 2,000 state residents by 2024.
All CSCU community colleges and universities, along with interested high schools, gain access to courses and the opportunity to be certified to work in a critical technical field.
The partnership is part of a series of public-private workforce development collaborations introduced by OWS.
Other programs include a similar partnership with Google to provide Google Certificates free of charge at community colleges and technical high schools across the state, and regional IT training programs.
These programs allow individuals to get industry recognized credentials at low to no cost. However, that doesn’t mean students do not face create barriers such as transportation costs, technology purchases like a laptop and broadband for online courses, and housing.
The committee will continue to hear bills until its Mar. 22 deadline.
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