Tuition at all of Connecticut’s state colleges universities and community colleges could be going up in a big way if state lawmakers in Hartford don’t step in, according to the college system’s president.
A plan floated late last year by Connecticut State Colleges & Universities President Mark Ojakian would have merged all of Connecticut community colleges into one large school, a plan Ojakian said would save more than $20 million. But that plan has been rejected by the accreditation board, and now Ojakian says it’s up to state lawmakers to make sure tuition does not skyrocket.
“Most of us come here because it is affordable,” said Capital Community College student Natalie Langlaise.
Langlaise said part of the reason she’ll earn an associates degree from Capital Community College this spring is because her tuition here was never too high. She’s deeply disturbed by the possibility of tuition soon soaring at schools like her own.
“It would affect my entire life, I would say,” she told NBC Connecticut. ”The idea that the cost of education is going up, it just doesn’t sit well with the students,” she added.
In a letter to lawmakers, President Ojakian said tuition at Capital and all of Connecticut’s community colleges could more than double from about $4,000 a year to $10,000, and four-year colleges could increase by 50 percent if state lawmakers don’t act to help close budget shortfalls with something other than tuition increases.
“In two years we’re going to be even further in the whole than we had projected,” Oakian said.
Ojakian said he sent the letter to make it clear to the state that now that the proposal to save money by merging schools is stalled, leaders have to act to keep the state’s colleges afloat.
“It was meant to say to them, if you want to have a public higher education system, that’s affordable and accessible and doesn’t leave any student behind, then we need your help,” Ojakian said.
Despite the failure of the consolidation plan, Ojakian said keeping all of Connecticut’s community colleges open is a priority, But while they continue to push lawmakers for more funding, they’ll also circle back with the accreditors to see if there’s an acceptable way to consolidate.