When officials at the University of Connecticut decided earlier this year to approve the smallest tuition increase in a decade and instead cut their budget by almost $30 million, they did so with a big caveat: They might be forced to come back after the start of the school year and increase tuition.
But on Wednesday afternoon, officials decided a further increase in tuition would not be considered.
“The decision was to drop that option,” said Richard Gray, the chief financial officer of UConn. “The cost of that [tuition increase] to families and reputational risk would have been a much greater cost.”
Officials earlier this year approved a modest 2.5 percent increase in tuition and fees–an additional $240 for in-state students–which adhered to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s request of officials to not increase tuition above inflation rates.
“A mid-year increase would have come as a huge shock” to students, Glen O’Keefe, head of UConn’s Bursar Office.
Brien Buckman, the student member on the Board of Trustees, ageed.
“Obviously, students expect to see a steady tuition amount the entire academic year,” he said. “This was the right decision.”
Gray warned that such modest increases in the future may not be possible, as next years budget also faces cuts in funding from the state. For the current year, UConn received a $44.8 million overall cut to its budget. UConn officials plan to begin considering tuition amounts for next school year at their November meeting.
UConn President Susan Herbst said students are charged significantly less than “aspirational peer” universities. She named Penn State as one of those peers, which charges $5,000 a semester more for in-state tuition.
“That’s why Penn State is doing so well,” she said, crediting their higher tuition to small class sizes and more being spent on research, both priorities of hers.
Because UConn officials sought to close their $67.3 million deficit with minimal reliance on tuition, Gray warned that students may soon begin seeing that impact in other portions of their wallet. Possible increases may be found in student parking and sports tickets.
“That may require looking at ticket prices,” he said, not indicating which sports or when those increases may go into effect. “This budget is a tough budget.”
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