The Finance and Administration Committee of the Board of Trustees, which will soon become Board of Regents for the Connecticut State University System (CSUS), voted last spring to recommend a 2.5 percent increase in tuition and fees at four Connecticut State Universities and the University of Connecticut for this year, the smallest one-year increase since 2000.
According to the Connecticut State School Systems website, the 2.5 percent increase would bring an additional $7.8 million to the universities, helping to moderate the impact of proposed state reductions.
Executive Vice President for Finance, James Blake, said it is unclear if the same increase will be implemented for the 2012-13 academic year.
“So far there has been no information. So we really don’t know what the process is and what the proposal will be for next year,” said Blake. “It has complicated things a bit, because we are trying to look at enrollment and part of that is what the price of tuition and fees will be next year.”
Blake said the 2.5 percent the students are paying doesn’t close the gap to other expenses that have gone up throughout the university. The typical process is the Board of Regents every September gives guidelines and procedures to follow when Southern puts together their request for increases and business plan. It would then be submitted and between November and December the Board of Regents would approve the fees.
According to the State of University budget update given by the university president and Blake earlier this month, the fiscal year spending plan for 2012 was built on the assumption of a 2-percent enrollment increase.
A year ago, tuition and fees increased 6.3 percent for in-state undergraduate commuters and 5.6 percent for in-state undergraduate students living on campus. Since 2008, tuition has increased by 3.5 percent for in-state undergraduate student commuters and 9.1 percent for in-state undergraduate students living on campus.
“I think the tuition is reasonable but is going to the wrong places,” said Brechin Knapp, a junior English and secondary education major. “There are a lot of problems they are not choosing to address.”
Other students said they noticed that while tuition has increased, the university hasn’t seen any good changes to go along with it.
“Tuition shouldn’t be raised at all, it’s cheap, I expect to see reasons why it should be and so far I haven’t seen any,” said Cassandra Cuddy, junior English and psychology major, who also said extra fees, like paying for printing and the campus gym, are unnecessary if students don’t know where that money is going.
“We have to be really sensitive by what we are increasing. Making sure the dollars we increase by are essentially needed,” said Blake.
The tuition decrease, according to Bernard Kavaler, assistant vice chancellor for the State University System, was one of the lowest increases in many years. However, state budget cuts have impacted the universities, which are the main sources of revenue.
“It’s too soon to determine what will happen,” said Kavaler. “I think the overriding interest of the board has been that families and how we’re all facing difficult economic times and we’re trying to making every effort to limit the increase as much as possible and they were able to do that last year.”
State universities have found ways to absorb pay cuts from the state without raising tuition higher and worked very hard to continue to do that. The boards have also work hard not to increase tuition half way through the year, but most likely tuition will stay the same for the spring semester as it was for the fall.
Kavaler said the universities work hard to keep education affordable while still trying to keep the quality of education high. Efficiencies at Southern, like cutting back in energy areas and costs, have been used to save money so there wouldn’t be increases.
“Board of Trustees and incoming Board of Regents are aware of the upcoming economic challenges students are facing,” said Kavaler. “I think every effort will be made to limit tuition increases.”