It’s finals week at UConn, but many students have other stresses as the university's Board of Trustees voted to approve a four-year tuition hike plan.
UConn’s chief financial officer made a recommendation to the Board of Trustees to increase tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students and the board has voted to approved it.
“It’s high enough already. It’s just going to add to the level of stress for the students. We don’t need it,” Ciara Hamilton, a sophomore at UConn, said.
The increases under the plan are gradual, spread out over a four year span, starting in the fall of 2016. This marks the second four-year scale tuition hike Uconn has ever done as oppose to voting on it every year and it's the first time the university is increasing tuition by specific dollar amounts instead of percentages.
It will last until spring of 2020. The plan was addressed in two town hall gatherings on campus before Wednesday's trustee meeting, according to a release on UConn's website.
“UConn is committed to affordability, accessibility, and remaining attractive to students and their families. UConn is an exceptional value for Connecticut students and will continue to be,” Scott Jordan, UConn’s executive vice president for administration and chief financial officer, told trustees in his memo about the plan. “It is important to note that both now and at the conclusion of the proposed four-year plan, it will continue to cost a Connecticut student attending UConn a fraction of what it would cost that student to attend any of UConn’s competitors.”
UConn officials said there have been significant cuts in state support and the school has a projected deficit of $40 million, however UConn President Susan Herbst said that university officials aren't complaining and said that the "state has invested greatly in UConn over the last two decades."
Our state’s leadership has been incredibly supportive of UConn, and I believe they would invest more in higher education, if the resources were there to do so. When it comes to UConn’s finances going forward, we’re not facing an either/or question," Herbst said in part in a statement on Wednesday. "The reality is that we need to increase tuition and cut costs simultaneously in order to generate the resources needed to protect academic quality and student outcomes."
The increase is expected to generate $12.8 in the first year to help close that gap in 2016-17, UConn officials said. The remaining $27.4 shortfall will be dealt with through cuts, restrictive hiring, operational efficiencies and other methods deemed necessary that won't affect the academic quality at UConn.
No university strengthens academics by slashing academic budgets. No university supports positive student outcomes by having fewer faculty, bigger classes, or reduced financial aid," Herbst said. "That is what we are seeking to avoid."
UConn tuition is $10,524 annually and $32,066 every year for out-of-state students. By the end of the four years in-state students will paying $3,200 more and out-of-state students will be paying $4,400 more. That's about $700 more for in-state students in the fall, $775 more by 2017-18, $850 in 2018-19 and $950 in 2019-20. For out-of-state and international students tuition will increase by $950 in 2016-17, $1,050 in 2017-18, $1,150 by 2018-19 and $1,250 in 2019-20.
“I think tuition is high enough as it is. A lot of students I already know who don’t get financial aid are struggling with loans and everything to pay for it. I think if anything UConn should work at reducing tuition rather than increasing it." Sadiya Saulet, a freshman, said.
Students say when costs keep rising, it’s a deterrent to even attend college and they’d like to see more state funds
“I don’t think they should cut any problems to be honest with you. I think the state should actually weigh the importance of education, drive students to the school because that’s what’s going to make our state great," Matt Gerst, a senior, said.
State officials are also weighing in on the tuition hike plan. Stat Sen. John Kissel (R-Enfield) was critical of it.
“This is so disappointing. The middle-class is vanishing and under huge financial stress, not qualifying for aid and being priced out of UConn, my beloved alma mater,” Sen. Kissel said in a written statement. “Who is getting a 7% raise this year or a 31% over the next 4 years? No one is fighting for the middle class and it breaks my heart. The trustees just gave thousands of great Connecticut kids a huge lump of coal.”