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Student Loans

Connecticut Student Loans, Scholarships, and Grants

Updated Oct 02, 2022   |   7-min read

Most students struggle to figure out how they will pay for college, regardless of where they live. And most students will rely on a combination of federal loans, private loans, grants, and scholarships to pay for their education.

Connecticut is home to many four-year colleges, trade schools, and prestigious universities. Fortunately, Connecticut residents have access to a number of loans, grants, and scholarships. Listed below are some of the many ways you can pay for college in Connecticut.

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Getting Financial Aid for College

One of the most important parts of preparing for college is figuring out the total cost of attendance. This isn’t as simple as just looking at the yearly tuition. This takes into account the tuition, your major, room and board, books and supplies, and more.

The College Board has a lot of information on their website on figuring out the average cost of college, so that might be a good place to start. Once you know how much money you’ll need, it’s time to start looking for financial aid.

Here are three steps to finding financial aid to pay for school:

Fill out the FAFSA

When you’re trying to find a way to pay for college, your first step should always be to fill out the FAFSA. By filling it out, you could qualify for federal loans and grants.

The amount of federal aid you receive will depend on your Expected Family Contribution, the tuition, and your year in school. If you’re unsure of where to start, check out this free FAFSA guide.

Apply for Local and National Scholarships 

There are many local and national scholarships available to students, you just have to know about them. Fortunately, they’re easy to find if you just do a little online research.

Many colleges in Connecticut offer their own scholarships to students. Here is a list of scholarships offered by the University of Connecticut.

Consider Private Loans

If you’ve already maxed out what you can borrow in subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans, private loans are a good option. If you have a limited credit history, you may be required to apply with a cosigner.

Make sure you compare offers from multiple banks and credit unions so you can find the lowest rate possible.

State-Based Student Loans in Connecticut

Since 1982, the state of Connecticut has offered a low-cost loan program for students who are maxed out on their federal loans and grants. The program is maintained by the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority (CHESLA).

In addition, Connecticut has a number of banks and credit unions that would be good options for taking out private loans. Let’s look at a couple options below.

Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority (CHESLA)

CHESLA is an alternative loan source for students who have exhausted their federal aid and scholarships. Here are a few details about taking out a loan through CHESLA:

Eligibility: You can apply online and will be required to submit your credit report, tax information, and W-2s to verify your income and creditworthiness.

Loan limits/costs: Current loan rates are 4.95% fixed annual rates.

Perks: There is no fee or application deadline to apply for loans from CHESLA. Students can receive a cumulative max of $125,000 in supplemental loans. And students receive a six-month repayment grace period after graduation.

Caveats: You may be required to apply with a cosigner if you don’t meet CHESLA’s credit requirements.

Charter Oak Credit Union

Charter Oak Credit Union partnered with well-known student loan lender Sallie Mae to offer the Smart Option Student Loan. Here are some details about the program:

Eligibility: Individuals working toward an associate’s or undergraduate degree as well as a certificate program may qualify for this loan. You can apply through Charter Oak or Sallie Mae. You may be required to apply with a cosigner, but this loan does offer a cosigner release option after 12 months of consecutive, on-time payments.

Loan limits/costs: Fixed interest rates start at 5.74% APR, and variable interest rates start at 4.37% APR.

Perks: The advantage of this loan is that you can borrow up to 100% of the certified cost of attendance. And Charter Oak offers three different repayment plans: deferred repayment, fixed repayment, or interest repayment.

Caveats: Sallie Mae has received a number of online complaints about their customer service.

>> Read More: State-specific student loans

Connecticut College Scholarships

When you fill out the FAFSA, you could automatically qualify for some state funding. But there could be other programs available that you aren’t aware of.

For a complete list of grants and scholarships, check out the Connecticut Office of Higher Education’s website. Scroll to the chart at the bottom and you’ll find information about scholarships, who qualifies, and how to apply.

Here are five different Connecticut college scholarships you might consider applying for:

Angelo Tagliacozzo Memorial Geological Scholarship: Individual scholarships range from $1,000 to $5,000. This scholarship is for junior and senior undergraduate geology students. The deadline to apply for this scholarship is December 31.

Connecticut Tourism Industry Scholarship Grants: Individuals can receive a $1,000 scholarship with this grant. This scholarship is designed for students pursuing a tourism or hospitality degree in college. The application deadline is March 29.

The Day of Pride Scholarship: This $20,000 scholarship is for Connecticut high school seniors from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students can be nominated at their high school’s guidance counselor’s office. The application deadline is December 1.

EPOC Environmental Scholarship Fund: This scholarship is for students pursuing a degree in environmental science. The deadline to apply is April 30.

Milton Fisher Scholarship for Innovation and Creativity: This scholarship pays $5,000 per year for four years. It’s for students who are in the Connecticut or New York metro area. A good applicant is someone who has come up with a unique solution to a problem facing their school.

Connecticut Grants for College

Most people use the terms “grant” and “scholarship” interchangeably, but they are two different things. Both are forms of aid that don’t have to be repaid and some are based on merit while others are based on financial need. Here are five state-based grants you might look into:

Minority Teacher Incentive Grant: This grant provides up to $5,000 a year for the last two years of school and $2,500 a year for up to four years of teaching. This is available to certain minority teachers who begin teaching at a public school within 16 months of graduating from college. The deadline to apply is October 1.

The Connecticut Aid to Public College Students Grant Program: This grant is for students who are enrolled in a public college in Connecticut. The amount of aid received will be calculated after considering all other sources of payment.

Connecticut Independent College Student Grant Program: This grant is similar to the one listed above, but it’s offered to students who attend private colleges, not public. The amount of aid given will be calculated the same way.

Capitol Scholarship Grant Program: This grant is for students who graduated in the top 20% of their class. Students can earn up to $3,000 per year.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant: This grant is available to students whose parent or guardian was enrolled in the U.S. Forces after 9/11 and died in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The maximum amount of aid is $5,775 per year.