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Connecticut considers tax credits to lower tuition cost for students

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MANCHESTER -- College students all over the country are juggling the cost of tuition, along with many other expenses.

Soon, some New Yorkers will be able to cut that cost and attend state colleges tuition-free.

It’s raising the question if Connecticut, just one state away, could help its students do the same.

“You kind of cut other things in life so you can pay for schooling, so I’m not taking out loans. I think it would be great," said Manchester Community College student Nathan Luginbuhl.

T.J. Barber, Director of Student Activities at Manchester Community College, said politicians should consider it an investment because so many students who attend state schools remain in Connecticut.

"They're going to work at our companies. They're going to be leaders in our communities," Barber said. "I think investing in our education system is an investment in the future of our state."

A spokeswoman for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities said it's a good idea in theory, but the money has to come from somewhere or someone. New York’s plan will cost taxpayers around $163 million in the first year alone.

“Free tuition doesn't mean the cost gets eliminated, the cost just gets transferred elsewhere,” said Maribel La Luz, CSCU spokeswoman. "Those costs continue to go up year after year. So the question becomes who's going to pay for it and how?".

Right now it's not even on the table in Connecticut, so the state college and university system is working to keep costs affordable.

This year they’ve proposed the lowest tuition increase in the past three years.

“Our state has its own fiscal challenges right now. Our system has its own fiscal challenges right now so we're trying to address the cost of education in our own way,” said La Luz.

She added, "If there ever was an opportunity where the cost of tuition and fees could be absorbed somehow that doesn't negatively impact our students in the long run then I'm sure we would support it."

While lawmakers aren't proposing free tuition, they are proposing to establish a tax credit for college grads who stay in Connecticut’s workforce and contribute to the economy. The plan seems to have bi-partisan support.

“Making it tax deductible or eligible for tax credits, I think in some limited form I think is appropriate. We should encourage the education of anyone who wants it,” said Sen. Len Suzio (R) Meriden.

“To be able to provide an incentive for young people just coming out of school to come back and make a living in our state, I think is a great thing,” said Rep. James Albis (D) East Haven.

The joint committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding voted to draft the bill on Tuesday.