Gateway Community College Receives $1.6 Million in Need-Based Tuition Grants

Friday, August 19, 2016

The State of Connecticut Department of Higher Education awarded Gateway Community College (GCC) $1.6 million from the Roberta B. Willis Scholarship Grant Program. The award reflects a $900,000 increase over similar grants in previous years.  

Formerly the Governor’s Scholarship, the funds make it possible for Gateway Community College to assist Connecticut residents taking classes (full and part-time) at Gateway Community College. The need-based grants are available for two-year and four-year programs of study. 

Gateway Community College served 11,020 undergraduates last year, currently making it the largest of the 12 Connecticut Community Colleges, and consequently the college with the most students who rely on financial aid to subsidize tuition.  

“Even though the community colleges have the lowest tuition for higher education in the state at $2084 per semester for full-time study, it is still a challenge and students still struggle to afford a college education,” explains GCC President, Dorsey Kendrick. ““We serve some of the neediest students in the state, and these funds are vital to our primary goal of creating access to higher education for those who might otherwise be excluded.”

The financial assistance provided by grants like the Willis Scholarship program are particularly valuable to students rely on the solid educational foundation community colleges provide to those who plan to transfer to a university to earn a higher degree.  According to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, Connecticut Community Colleges rank 6th in the nation for affordability, citing that, “Although it (Connecticut) has some of the most affordable two-year colleges in the nation, its public four-year colleges and universities are among the nation’s least affordable.  One third of Connecticut students are enrolled in public two-year institutions.”

The economic impact of grants like the Roberta Willis Scholarship Grant is undeniably significant toward lowering student debt and making higher education more accessible. Approximately 80% of GCC’s new students state their intention to transfer to a university after graduation. According to the 2015 Higher Education trends report Gateway Community College lead the pack in 2015-16 with the highest number of students transferring into a Connecticut Community College--1,089--third behind UConn and Central Connecticut State University.

The grant was renamed in May 2016, in honor of State Representative Roberta Willis (64th District) when she retired after 16 years in the General Assembly. Most recently she served as House Chair of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee, and a member of the Appropriations Committee and the Environment Committee.

To qualify for this and other financial aid opportunities, students must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid application form at  The code for Gateway Community College is 006981.  Fall classes begin on Monday, August 29 and GCC service offices are open until 7:00 p.m. on August 24, 25, 29, 30 and 31st.

Inquiries about the  Roberta Willis Scholarship Grant, may be directed to GCC Director of Financial Aid, Ray Zeek at For information on applying to Gateway Community College, contact GCC admissions at or call (203) 285-2010.