Christine Stuart photo

Julie Larkin received her associates degree from Manchester Community College in 2012, but she wants to go back and get a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Thanks to a $6 million line item in the state budget, at least three of her three-credit courses at one of the state’s four-year universities will be free.

Larkin began enrollment in the “Go Back to Get Ahead” program Monday and was accepted. She’s one of about 250 former students who have inquired either online at www.GoBackToGetAhead.com or by phone at 1-844-428-4228 about their enrollment in the program.

“I believe that it was fate that this opportunity came to light at this time,” Larkin said. “I was unsure whether I would return to college and finish my four-year degree when she received a call from Manchester Community College.”

The colleges are reaching out to about 65,000 students who may qualify for the program.

Gina Glickman, president of Manchester Community College, said there’s been a decrease in the number of credits students were taking this past semester because of “economics.” She said she hopes the program will increase the number of students enrolling and completing their degrees.

“We want people to come back to our college system,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Monday at Manchester Community College. “There are about 89,000 folks who started an associates degree program in the community colleges of the state of Connecticut and for whatever reasons — probably for some combination of reasons — have failed to complete that degree.”

It’s unknown how many of those individuals will be able to take advantage of the program because the price of the credits varies at the state’s 12 community colleges and four universities.

“In all honesty we’re not sure how much this program will get between now and September,” Malloy said.

A student has to have left the system for 18 months in order to be accepted to the program.

Christine Stuart photo

Malloy made the proposal as part of his budget address in February.

By the year 2020, it’s projected that 70 percent of all jobs in Connecticut will require a college degree, Malloy said.

“That’s up significantly over the last four years,” Malloy said. “A high school diploma doesn’t get you very far. In fact, a GED doesn’t even get you in the military anymore.”

Malloy described the program as temporary and not a permanent solution for students who want to get ahead.

There is no deadline on the program, but the resources are finite.

The ideal student, according to Malloy, would have less than six courses they needed to finish in order to get their degree. The cost of the degree would be at half the price based on the three free credits.