Tuition increase approved
Tamonda Griffiths—News Writer
During a Finance and Infrastructure Committee meeting, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system’s Board of Regents for Higher Education approved a tuition increase of about 5% to the four state universities for the fiscal year 2020.
“That does all sound like a lot,” said Student Government Association President Alexis Zhitomi, during an SGA meeting the week after spring break, “and it is because every dollar counts to our students, but it is, unfortunately, the reality we are looking at right now.”
According to the meeting’s agenda, for Southern undergraduate commuters tuition and fees would increase by 4.5% and 3.8% for residential students.
Along with the tuition increase, Zhitomi said there will be a 2.5% increase in housing expenses and an approximate 4% increase in meal plans.
Also, according to assistant dean of students & director of student conduct Christopher Piscitelli, who was at the SGA meeting, it is a state law that 15% of the revenue collected from tuition has to be set aside for financial aid.
Last week, associate professor and assistant chair of the Social Work Department Stephen Tomczak, as well as other professors, and some students attended an assembly in Hartford to discuss the recent tuition increase.
“We had several wonderful student speakers,” said Tomczak, “who testified to how the escalating cost of tuition is really sort of pricing them out of a, of a college education.”
The state’s continual decline in its investment in higher education, Tomczak said is “short-sighted,” and will not only negatively affect current and future students, but the entire state of Connecticut.
According to Tomczak, 90% of Connecticut State University alumni continue to live in Connecticut and contribute to the state’s economy.
“I’m an example of this,” said Tomczak. “I’m a graduate of Southern.”
When he was attending the university, Tomczak said he was paying $500 per semester in tuition. Students today, he said pay “10 times the amount.”
“Inflation doesn’t account for the vast majority of [the increase in tuition],” said Tomczak. “What accounts for the vast majority of it is the decline in state appropriation.”
Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Mark Rozewski said the university is currently working on modeling the university’s budget for the fiscal year 2020.
“The current year looks fine,” said Rozewski. “What we’re worried about is next year.”
According to a March 13 Finance & Infrastructure committee agenda packet, Governor, Ned Lamont’s proposed a $145.2 million budget for the CSUs in the fiscal year 2020.
However, Rozewski said that the “recommendation” is not the end result.
The Governor, he said, makes his proposal sometime in February, then the legislature recommends another number, and then they, “duke it out,” and vote on an exact number in May.
“We don’t know for sure,” said Rozewski, “because it’s not over until it’s over.”
Rozewski said he is currently using the Governor’s recommendation and the approved tuition increase to start his model of the budget. The tuition increase, he said, “probably won’t change.”
“There’s a theoretical possibility that it could change if catastrophe strikes,” said Rozewski. “For instance, the legislature recommends less than Governor’s [proposed] budget.”
In that case, Rozewski said that does not mean tuition would further increase, however, it certainly raises the possibility.
*Edited on April 4, 2019.