CSU considers tuition freeze

Students at the four universities in the Connecticut State University System will not see an increase in tuition next fall if a proposal made Friday by members of the system’s Board of Trustees is approved next week.

The board’s Finance and Administration Committee recommended what would be the first tuition freeze in more than a decade but left open the possibility that the freeze could be lifted if financial conditions change.

The full board will vote next Thursday on the recommendation along with a proposal that would freeze salaries for non-union administrators as the 36,500-student system attempts to cope with the state’s deep fiscal crisis.

“We recognize the economic challenges facing many of our students and their families, and will remain steadfast in our commitment to providing affordable, accessible, high quality education,” CSUS Board Chairman Karl Krapek said in a statement issued by the university.

If approved, the proposal would freeze tuition and required fees at an average of $17,997 for in-state students living on campus and $8,043 for commuter students. (The actual figures vary slightly among the four campuses.)

“If they kept [tuition] where it’s at, I think that would be a terrific idea,” said Ashley Salter, a 19-year-old sophomore at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. Salter, of West Haven, said she works a summer job at a child care center and holds a job on campus during the school year to help pay college costs.

In its recommendation, the committee said the tuition freeze might have to be re-examined if the governor and legislature reduce the university’s budget next year. State officials are facing a projected budget deficit of nearly $3.4 billion in fiscal year 2012 and will be under pressure to cut budgets in all agencies.

The proposal to freeze salaries next year for non-union managers was first made in July by Krapek and Chancellor David G. Carter. After a salary freeze a year ago, union and non-union employees received raises this year, but the system came under fire when some managers, including Carter, received increases of up to 10 percent.

The raises were later reduced to 5 percent after Gov. M. Jodi Rell called the increases “excessive” and “intolerable” in light of an economic slump that has resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs statewide.

Tuition and fees have not been set for next year at the state’s other two major higher education institutions. At the University of Connecticut, tuition, fees and room and board this year are $20,968 for in-state students. At the Connecticut Community Colleges system, annual tuition and fees are $3,406.