Despite funding cuts, UConn proposes smallest tuition and fee hike in years

Despite significant proposed cuts to its budget for the next school year, the University of Connecticut administration is recommending that trustees adopt the smallest percentage increase in tuition and fees since 2000.

The proposed 2.5 percent increase — which amounts to an additional $240 in tuition and fees for in-state students — is expected to be voted on by the UConn Board of Trustees Wednesday.

uconn tuition and fees

The size of the proposed increase comes as a surprise for many, who have seen UConn officials raise tuition and fees by as much as 10.7 percent in recent years despite no significant reduction in state funding. A 5.4 percent tuition and fee increase was approved last year and their general funding appropriation from the state remained the same.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is proposing cutting state funding for the coming fiscal year by $25.6 million.

When Malloy proposed decreasing funding to the state’s public colleges and universities by $62.5 million — $150 million less then officials say they need to maintain their current services — when he introduced his budget last month, he called on the institutions not to increase tuition substantially. Malloy said he expected UConn and the rest of the state’s higher education institutions to “demonstrate the creativity, the intelligence, and the resolve” to live within the amount state lawmakers provide without raising tuition beyond the inflation rate.

“The governor was clear,” said Michael Kirk, UConn’s spokesman. “The university was mindful of that” when deciding to not increase tuition above inflation.

But Tom Haggerty, president of the Undergraduate Student Government at UConn, said he is disappointed additional tuition revenue will only fill 25 percent of the gap.

“We are going to be in a significant financial bind. We are going to see a significant number of services cut,” he said. “We won’t have enough revenue to keep UConn’s rankings. You are going to see our academic prestige start to slip.”

The proposed tuition increase is expected to close $9 million of the $35 million deficit UConn faces, Kirk said.

“Obviously tuition is one piece of making that up. but it is not all of it,” he said.

The remaining $26 million, Kirk said, will be made up by major cuts and from other new revenue sources. UConn officials told state education lawmakers last week they are considering increasing parking fees and providing more summer and online courses to increase revenue.

“Everything is on the table,” Kirk said Thursday.

Higher Education Commissioner Michael Meotti called the proposed increase “modest by historic proportions.”

Meotti said he is confident the remaining budget deficit UConn must close can be done witout impacting the quality of education.

“It shouldn’t result in anything dire,” he said. “I don’t see this as some awesome, horrible gap… You are able to spend less and yet you are able to deliver the same level of education.”

The state’s other public colleges and universities are also facing major budget cuts. Officials from the state’s community colleges have warned they may need to increase tuition by as much as 27 percent to make up for proposed budget cuts. Connecticut State University officials have also signaled tuition increases may be inevitable.

UConn will hold an forum to discuss the proposed increase at the Storrs campus Friday at 3 p.m. The school plans to provide video links to regional campuses.