Tuition increases on tap at state colleges

Connecticut university officials plan to vote on a proposal Tuesday that will raise the cost of college for in-state residents by 5.1 percent next fall and decrease the price for college-bound students from other states by 2.6 percent.

The plan that members of the Board of Regents' Finance Committee will consider Tuesday also creates eight new fees that many students will be required to pay.


The move to boost the average cost for Connecticut students living on campus by at least $778 while decreasing out-of-state costs by $170 comes as the system works to close a significant budget gap. For in-state students that live off campus, tuition and fees will increase by $434 a year.

Officials at the 100,000-student system hope the move will lure more out-of-state students to help make up for declining student enrollment, drastic cuts in state funding and a mandatory 5 percent pay raise for unionized employees next year.

"Each of the universities expressed concern that the high cost of the out-of-state rate was a major deterrent to attracting out-of-state students. Reducing the cost ... would improve marketing of academic programs to non-resident students," the proposal reads.

If approved, this would be the second consecutive year that the board would move to lower tuition for out-of-state students.

Last year, out-of-state students began being offered in-state tuition rates to enroll in a handful of graduate programs.

But overall enrollment was still down 3 percent this semester, and even more in graduate programs.

Next school year, Western Connecticut State University, just 5 miles from the New York border, is expecting a 15 percent drop in out-of-state enrollment. Four percent of students attending one of Connecticut's 16 public colleges in the Board of Regents system are from other states.

If adopted, the revised cost will still be significantly more a year than for a New York resident to attend a State University of New York.

New fees.

The 29-page tuition and fee plan shows eight new fees that students would be required to pay next fall.

Students in music, art and theatre programs at Western will be required to pay anywhere from an additional $600 to $1,000 a year. Students studying to become school counselors will be required to pay a new $75 fee to enroll in a required course.

Southern students will pay a new "language lab fee" that totals $50 a year. A new $5 "transcript fee" will be assessed to a student's costs at Central. Students at all the state colleges will be required to pay a new $65 fee if they have health insurance and don't unroll from the university's plan in time.

"The recommended increases to tuition and fees are essential to allow the universities to maintain, and in some cases restore, educational programs and student services," the proposal reads.

College officials have largely turned to tuition and enrollment increases to compensate for state budget cuts. In Connecticut, enrollment and tuition in higher education programs has steadily increased over the past 10 years.

"The financial model of who contributes to the costs has really changed" with state cuts, said Michael Reilly, executive director of the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers, which represents the gatekeepers at 1,200 U.S. colleges.

"You have to look for an increase in students to make up for cuts... Those students bring money that used to be given by the state," he said during a recent interview.

Over the last two school years, state funding for the dozen community colleges and four state colleges has declined by 15.3 percent, or $49.4 million. If this tuition proposal is adopted, tuition will have increased by $1,000 a year, an 11.8 percent increase.

Correction: An original version of this story reported in-state tuition would increase by $1,212 a year. The proposal will actually increase tuition by $778 a year.

See related: Group organizing campus walkout if tuition increases approved

Follow Jacqueline Rabe Thomas on Twitter @jacquelinerabe