CSUS holds tuition hike to 2.5 percent–but that’s not the only increase

NEW HAVEN– Officials at Connecticut State University System approved what they called a “modest” 2.5 percent increase in tuition and fees for the upcoming school year–but for many students, the cost of going to school will rise even more than that.

In addition to the $198 dollar increase for in-state students, those who put their tuition, fees or other school expenses on a credit card will be charged another 2.5 percent, which totals $206 if they pay their entire tuition with their credit card.


Mercedes DeMasi with WCSU president James SchMotter

“We need to teach our students that charging on a credit card is not a financially brilliant move,” said Lousie Feroe, acting chancellor of university. “There are alternatives out there.”

Officials estimate about 14,600 students–or 40 percent of full and part-time CSUS students–use credit cards to pay some or all of the cost. Steven Pierre-Charles, a freshman at Southern, is one.

“It’s hard for me to pay all my tuition myself. It’s so much money,” he said.

So, he puts the rest on his nearly-maxed-out credit card.

“My minimum balance is too high to even pay sometimes,” the student who works at a retail store to pay the bill. “I’m paying a lot.”

This new charge is expected to bring in an additional $2.1 million, which will help offset some of the fees credit card companies charge.

Pam J. Kedderis, the chief financial officer at CSUS, said most institutionsincluding the University of Connecticut —already charge students for using credit cards, or simply ban the such transactions.

“We are just joining everyone else,” she said.

She said she also does not expect all 14,600 students to be hit with the new fee, because many will rethink how they pay. She says CSUS is trailing the lead of UConn, who launched the fee years ago and since has seen credit card use decreased substantially.

But for Mercedes DeMasi, the student board member from Western Connecticut State University, said she looked everywhere for help to pay her tuition. In the end she was left putting a portion on her credit card for what loans, scholarships and financial aid did not cover.

“I pay with my credit card,” she said, and pointed to the calculation she did in her notebook of what the new fee would cost for students like her: $195. “I think this is too high.”

For students living on campus the new fee is $461 if they decide to pay by credit card.

Members of the board said the 12-month payment plan the university offers is a feasible alternative for students.

Spread out over 12 payments, the new average tuition and fee total of $8,241 is almost $687 a month. For students living on campus the monthly bill would be $1,536.

“I don’t have that,” Pierre-Charles said. He said he plans to continue charging tuition, including the new fee.

CSUS Finance Committee Chairman Angelo J. Messina said the increase in tuition, the smallest in a decade, “does not impact student access,” but acknowledged that the new fee “is not an insignificant amount.”