Clock is ticking to apply for guaranteed admission to CT colleges

How does guaranteed acceptance to college sound? It’s now a reality in Connecticut – if your grades are good enough.
But time is running out to apply.
“I’M ALREADY ACCEPTED”
At New Britain High School on Tuesday, students got a lesson that could change their lives. They learned how to apply for automatic admission to college
“Automatically being accepted is a great feeling, knowing that I’m already going there,” said Emily Rodriguez, who graduates in a few months. “I’m already accepted.”
Under Connecticut’s new Automatic Admissions Program, students who graduate in the top 30% of their class are guaranteed a spot at nine colleges:
  • Central Connecticut State University in New Britain
  • Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic
  • Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven
  • Western Connecticut State University in Danbury
  • Mitchell College in New London
  • University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport
  • University of New Haven in New Haven
  • University of St. Joseph in West Hartford
  • Goodwin University in East Hartford
Admission fees are also waived, and students can use the same application for all nine schools.
The clock is ticking to apply, though. The deadline is Jan. 4.
ALREADY WORKING
The Automatic Admissions Program is already popular. In its first year (Fall 2023), 1,617 students applied. This year, state officials expect that number to double.
The program is aimed at students like Alondra Planas, who already accepted admission to Central Connecticut State. Planas will be the first in her family to go to college.
“There are six people in the household,” she said. “I don't even think I would have considered college.
Planas hopes to become a teacher, which are desperately needed in Connecticut. Education leaders hope the Automatic Admissions Program can address the state’s worker shortage.
“Well over 90% of our students – after they graduate, they stay to live and work here in Connecticut,” said Terrence Cheng, chancellor of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU).
FEWER CLASSES, HIGHER TUITION
But will college remain affordable for students like Planas? The Automatic Admission Program comes as the CSCU system is cutting courses and raising tuition.
Last week, the Board of Regents approved an extra 5% tuition hike – the second increase in a row. Next fall, the average university student will pay $990 more, including housing and fees.
And while students are paying more, they’re getting less. In November, CSCU leaders announced cuts to faculty and course offerings, amid a $140 million deficit.
Regents said the new state budget gave them no choice. Although CSCU and the University of Connecticut actually got more state money, overall funding is down because federal pandemic aid ended, and enrollment is still struggling to recover from COVID. Board members also said that a change to how benefits are paid unfairly saddled them with tens of millions of dollars in new expenses.
“As we speak, current students are grappling with the impacts of reduced staff and services – from tutoring and ESL [English as a Second Language] services being shuttered to class sizes ballooning, Gov. Lamont is not setting up our future generations for success,” said Seth Freeman, president of the Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges union. “Gov. Lamont's actions, yet again, do not align with his statements.”
Previously, Lamont said colleges need to “live within their means.” But Tuesday, the governor said that he’s open to more funding.
“We're working very closely with Terrence [Cheng] and the Board of Regents on that,” he said. “Everything is, you know, open to discussion.”
“OPENED THOSE DOORS FOR ME”
For Planas, there’s no “discussion” about how college could change her life.
“I always will look back to this program, because I limited myself and this program just opened those doors for me,” she said.
Changes could be coming to the Automatic Admission Program next year. Cheng plans to ask lawmakers to base eligibility on students’ Grade Point Average, instead of the top 30% of a graduating class. He said the change will make the program easier to administer.