Annual tuition and fees increases by 3.8 percent
Tamonda Griffiths – Editor-in-Chief
On Wednesday, Jan. 29 the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities’ Board of Regents’ Finance and Infrastructure committee approved an average overall 3.8 percent increase in tuition and fees for the four state universities for the fiscal year of 2020.
“What is important to understand,” said President of the CSCU System, Mark Ojakian, “is that every year, cost of running the system go up.”
Last fiscal year, the CSCU increased the state universities tuition by an overall average of 5 percent, while the mandatory university fees were unchanged including the room fee for residential students, which was capped at 2.5 percent.
For the 2020 fiscal year, the CSUs will be experiencing a 4 percent tuition increase and 3.5 percent increase in mandatory university fees.
The costs that contribute to the increase, Ojakian said, are fringe benefits such as the amount of wages and health benefits allotted to faculty and staff, and the running of residential facilities at each of the state universities.
“I thought that a 3.8 total increase was, quite honestly not only responsible, but it still means that universities still need to cut expenses and may in some case have to dip into their reserve.” said Ojakian. “The tuition cost does not fully cover the deficit that’s anticipated as a result of the budget.”
According to Leigh Appleby, director of communications for the CSCU system, the tuition increase would eliminate any deficit for the CSUs, which is estimated to be 6.1 percent; that would bring in an additional $6.1 million.
“The universities have not adopted spending plans, and will not until late spring. Six point one million is about one percent of their budgets, so a lot could change,” said Appleby. “Each campus has their own challenges and circumstances. Some will be more able to reduce spending, and each will face different enrollment outcomes.”
With the newly enacted Pledge to Advance Connecticut program at the community colleges, Appleby said the incoming CSU freshman class enrollment for fall 2020 will be especially uncertain.
Chief Financial Officer of the CSCUs, Benjamin Barnes said he compiles the tuition request of the CSUs and consults with Ojakian and the BOR to determine whether or not their request are feasible in terms of access and affordability to students.
“I never seen [a request for tuition decrease from the universities],” said Barnes. “They typically ask for increases.”
Barnes said some of the request for tuition exceed the overall average of the decided tuition increase of 4 percent. Southern he said had requested 4.5 percent tuition increase.
“The board has historically, set tuition identically across the four universities,” said Barnes, “although there’s some variation in fees, we try to maintain consistent tuition.”
According to Barnes, about $150 million is from the state goes into the CSCU system. Southern, he said, gets about $40 to $50 million dollars of that funding.
However, Barnes said the state budget appropriation for the upcoming fiscal year is estimated to be just under $150 million dollars.
“It’s not enough,” said Barnes.