In the News | Lawmakers push to bring the lottery online and use money for community college funding

(WFSB, February 9, 2021) – The lottery brought in $330 million last year from people all looking to strike rich.  Now, there’s a push to make it even easier to get your tickets, by bringing the lottery online.

TRCC Student InterviewedIf this is passed, community college students could continue to get a chance at a free ride. The program is called PACT and it started last year. The funding comes from a grant and when that money runs out, lawmakers would like to pull it from the online lottery.

“Once I heard it was going through, it was like a miracle,” said Lilia Burdo, Three Rivers Community College. Lilia Burdo is one of the first participants of Connecticut’s PACT program. It provides debt-free community college to first-time college students. Burdo, a freshman at Three Rivers Community College, wants to be a high school English teacher.

“I also set a goal to graduate with as little debt as possible and PACT has allowed me to do that, and I know that some of my friends also have PACT, so it allows us to work and save money toward education after Three Rivers,” Burdo said. PACT started in the fall 2020 semester and more than 2,000 students are reaping the benefits.

“This is sort of the wave of the future,” Osten said. Connecticut’s lottery already brings in hundreds of millions of dollars each year and the money goes to the general fund.

PACT, which costs $6 million a year to fund, would only need a fraction of that. “The only part that would go for debt-free college is the money that’s necessary to go toward debt-free college,” Osten said. Osten says everything else would continue to go toward the general fund. “It sounds like it’s not too much of a financial burden and if it’s giving thousands of kids and adults education that they need to pursue a good paying job, I think it’s definitely worth it,” Burdo said. The bill will be discussed later this month, but Osten says it has bipartisan support and was set to pass last year, but the pandemic got in the way.

This will not include sports wagering because it’s going to be tougher to pass, so Osten says it’s not tied to PACT.

— By Matthew Campbell, WFSB Reporter
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