Today: Jul 14, 2024

Tuition increases by 2.5 percent

Jessica Giannone, General Assignment Reporter:
The Finance and Administration Committee of the Board of Trustees for the Connecticut
State University System approved a recommendation in a meeting held at Southern last Thursday to raise tuition 2.5 percent.
Board member and head of the Finance and Administration Committee, Angelo Messina, said the main objective is to provide accessible and affordable education, but with funds going down, and costs “not going down,” they have to balance the demands.
“We’re trying to be judicious, recognizing it’s difficult for students to pay tuition,” said Messina.
Average tuition and fees would increase by $198 for in-state undergraduate commuter students and $446 for in-state undergraduate student residents, according to the CSUS website.
Emily Blackett, a junior business management major at Southern, said she thinks it “sucks” she has to pay an extra $200, but it’s an improvement if it’s the lowest increase. Messina said for every dollar of tuition a student spends, the CSUS gets 60 cents. He said they were hoping they could freeze tuition, but it’s “not possible.”
The CSUS gets about 40 percent of funding from the state, according to Messina.
“If the state funding goes down, it gets hard,” said Messina, as he noted they don’t know where the state will end up financially.
“If we can’t continue to reduce enough costs, we have to continue to get our revenue from other sources.”
Dr. Louise Feroe, acting chancel¬lor of the CSUS, said the state system has been working long and hard to see if it could absorb the state cut. She said CSUS wanted as small of an increase as it could manage to maintain service and the education at the campuses.
“Basically it was calculus,” said Feroe. “How little tuition can we increase so that we don’t impact the education?”
Feroe said the CSUS tries to look at “every little piece” of every operation at the univer¬sities, and tries to do it better for less money. She said they come up with a list of specific places that they might change or “tweak.”
Feroe said the state system first looks to see if it could spend the money better, then looks at all the other sources of income to see if they could be increased.
“We have to find the mixture of more efficient practice and increase [the income from] the other sources.”
According to the CSUS website, the tuition increase would bring an estimated $7.8 million to the universi¬ties, but there would be a remaining budget gap of about $14 million because of additional state cuts. The budget being considered at the State Capitol would reduce CSUS current services request by approximately $22 million in each of the next two years, the website says.
Patrick Kingsley, a freshman computer science major, said he doesn’t think the state budget should compromise education, but it’s hard.
Feroe said the universities are considering “all the logistics that have to happen to keep the univer¬sity running” and looking at ways to do this more efficiently. She said the very first area the system looks at is administration.
Over the last year, the number of staff in the state system office has been cut, and staff were deployed to the universities, according to Feroe.
“The kind of ‘roll up your sleeves’ organization work,” said Feroe, “it just has to continue. There isn’t a single magic bullet or suggestion. We just have to learn how to operate with less funding, and figure out how to do that and do it well.”
Messina said the system initiated a salary freeze and reduced manage¬ment and administrative positions. He said the system is also looking to reduce credit card fees and noted that at one point, the universities might have to consolidate their course offer¬ings, or limit the number of students admitted to the universities.
Fifteen percent of funds go to scholarships, which is a little over $500,000, according to Messina, who said they usually exceed that number. He said he hopes scholarship funds would be the last place they would go to make cuts, as well as academics.
“We try not to impact academic programs,” said Messina, “but the times are as tough as they are. I don’t think the academic side can be immune.”
Messina added that there is only so much they can do when the majority of costs are in salaries.
“Faculty members are expensive,” said Feroe, “but ‘good grief!’ they are the central heart of the ability to offer education.”
She said it is all about the “hoops” people have to jump through to get from “point A” to “point B,” when dealing with these dilemmas.
Messina said he thinks the good news is that people are starting to see hope in the economy that things are doing better.
“We’ll get through this,” said Messina. “We always do.”

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