State funding boost helps, but still leaves UConn with deficit

UConn President Susan Herbst

CT Mirror file photo

UConn President Susan Herbst

The University of Connecticut informed students and faculty Friday that, despite $10.9 million in increased support in the state budget next year, cuts will still be needed to close an $18.3 million deficit in the university budget.

The additional state support does, however, blunt the sharp cuts UConn President Susan Herbst warned would be necessary if state funding were reduced, as the governor had recommended in February.

“It will make our deficit far more manageable and reduce the need for the kind of deep cuts we would have faced with a much larger gap,” Herbst wrote students and staff Friday morning. “At the same time, spending reductions and cuts will still be necessary to close the deficit we do face.”

The university reports it needs to increase spending by $70.8 million — or 6 percent — in the upcoming fiscal year to continue existing programs, services and staffing levels, and to hire additional faculty so students can get the courses they need to graduate on time.

Nearly two-thirds of the increases will go for additional wages and benefits. Unionized employees will receive a 6 percent pay increase, on average, next fiscal year.

In addition to the $70.8 million increase, the university had been planning to spend another $24.5 million to roll out Next Generation Connecticut, a 10-year plan to boost enrollment at the state’s flagship university by 30 percent and full-time faculty by 259.

Anticipating deficits, college officials in April announced they were scaling back Next Generation, and enrollment will increase at a slower pace than originally planned.

A UConn spokesman said Friday that, despite the lingering deficit, officials do not plan to increase tuition beyond the 6.75 percent that already has been approved. Tuition and fee increases were slated to cover two-thirds of those costs, and school officials were hoping the state would cover the rest.

The state’s other public college system — the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities — is also facing a deficit. The state budget cut funding for that system — which includes the four regional state universities, 12 community colleges and online Charter Oak College — by $8.2 million.

Increased expenses for the University of Connecticut for next fiscal year
UConn wants to spend $95.3 million more next year — an 8 percent increase over this year’s $1.2 billion budget. Tuition and fee increases were slated to cover two-thirds of those costs, and school officials were hoping the state would cover the rest.
Breakdown of cost increases Cost (in millions)
Salaries and Wages $28.2
Health and Retirement Benefits $16.6
Next Generation Connecticut (includes new positions, financial aid) $24.5
Financial Aid $1.3
Energy $0.5
Equipment $0.8
Research $4.7
Other (new buildings operating expenses, legal fees, inflation costs, etc.) $18.7

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