The Board of Trustees voted last week to raise tuition by 6 percent to a total of $7,632 per year for an in-state undergraduate student and $23,232 for an out-of-state student.
The board also approved a 6.5 percent increase in the General University Fee, a 5.9 percent increase in other fees, a 6 percent increase in room fees, and a 7 percent increase in board fees.
The total cost for a resident in-state undergraduate student next fall will be $19,788 for the year, up $1,150 or 6.2 percent from $18,638 this year. Out-of-state students who live on campus will pay a total of $35,388.
Even with the increases, the tuition costs for the average student seeking financial aid will actually be less than in the current year or even the previous five years, University President Michael Hogan said, because the federal stimulus package will provide students from “middle class families” with a $2,500 tuition tax credit. Most UConn families will qualify for the tax credit.
The package also provides additional funding for work study and for Pell grants, he said.
The 6 percent increase, which is comparable to tuition increases in prior years, represents a compromise between the trustees and Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Due to the uncertainty with the state budget, the governor initially opposed any tuition increase. At its February meeting, the board reviewed four tuition scenarios, ranging from no increase to a 13.67 percent increase.
The two student trustees on the board, Ross Gionfriddo and Richard Colon Jr., voted against the tuition hike. Both said they felt that 6 percent was too low, in light of the $34 million budget deficit the University is facing in Fiscal Year 2010. They felt that settling on an average tuition increase in the face of the deficit might lead to cuts in student services and loss of many student jobs.
Meredith Zaritheny, president of the Undergraduate Student Government, and Hedley Freake, professor of nutritional sciences and chairman of the University Senate Executive Committee, spoke in support of an increase of 8.67 percent. Both said the higher increase would protect services while maintaining affordability.
“Over the past year, many departments have been squeezed to the limit,” Freake said. “We feel the 8.67 percent option achieves the correct balance in maintaining quality and affordability.”
Freake said the Senate was unable to discuss the issue because its March meeting was cancelled due to a snow storm. But the Senate Executive Committee was unanimous in its support. Zaritheny noted that students polled by the USG overwhelmingly supported the 8.67 percent increase.
Student Amanda Stauble said she felt that many students were worried about any increase above 6 percent.
Hogan said the 6 percent increase leaves a budget gap of at least $11.4 million and could generate 150 to 170 layoffs. That could be mitigated by union give-backs, however, he said.
The president said demand for enrollment remains high, with applications up nearly five percent; that the University remains very competitive nationally, with the fifth-lowest tuition among regional public flagship universities; and that lower tuition hikes will mean larger classes and a deterioration from the student-faculty ratio of 17 to 1.
Other flagships plan much higher increases for the fall, he said, including the University of Massachusetts at 15 percent, the University of Rhode Island at 10 percent, and the State University of New York between 11 percent and 14 percent.
“The only exception appears to be Maryland,” he said, “where the university and the state are working on an agreement that posits a tuition freeze in exchange for a full current services budget, without rescission.”
Hogan said that even with the tuition increase, he is looking for additional ways to trim the budget: “The budget situation remains the focus of our attention every day, and we’ve moved aggressively and quickly to contain costs, identify efficiencies, and put into place plans to generate more revenues.”
He noted that this year, $12 million was cut from the budget. Next year, $7 million in cuts recommended by the Costs, Operating and Revenue Efficiencies (CORE) Task Force will be implemented.
Another report from CORE is expected in June.
“It hasn’t been easy,” he said, “but through a spirit of collaboration and support, we have managed to generate or identify this $19 million in just a few months without undermining program quality, student access, or incurring substantial layoffs.”