Pilot Program Aimed at Trimming College Debt

Some Democratic lawmakers are backing a new program designed to help recent college find jobs, provide incentives to employers who hire them and offer student loan debt relief.

“Lots of other state programs have failed and this is an attempt to do something different” said State Sen. Steve Cassano, a Democrat representing Glastonbury.

The pilot program called Serve Here Connecticut would start with a pot of $300,000, half of which would come from the state and the other half from matching donations. Fifteen participants would be selected from a pool of applicants to work in state government, local government or non-profit jobs.

Each recent college graduate would then receive $10,000 toward student loan debt, or toward furthering their education in the form of a scholarship. Participating employers would each receive $10,000 to offset the program participants' salaries.

"We wanted to create a program that would offer jobs to unemployed and under-employed millennials and would also offer assistance to the employers who are hiring them,” explained Alva Greenberg, one of the creators of Serve Here Connecticut.

Lawmakers have already filed legislation to create the program. Despite concerns that $150,000 might be tough to secure in light of projected shortfalls for the next two fiscal years, Democrats remain optimistic.

"We're not asking for a lot of money here. I obviously know we have a big deficit with this budget. I know it's not really hard and really solid with what we're dealing with but this is not that much money," said State Rep. David Alexander, of Enfield.

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