Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 12.03.19 PM

The University of Connecticut has been undergoing tremendous growth recently — partly evidenced by the nearly $1.3 billion budget officials adopted last week. Here, in graphical form, is a historical overview of where the public university gets and spends its money, who it enrolls, and how many it employs.

Students increasingly picking up the bill

The tuition and fees that students must pay to attend UConn are covering a growing share of the university’s expenses. This means the university is now relying on tuition to meet its budget more than on state funding.

During the 2010-11 year, revenue from students surpassed state funding levels. In the fiscal year that begins July 1, tuition and fees are budgeted to cover 38 percent of UConn’s costs compared to a 33 percent share from the state.

In real dollars, the cost to attend UConn has increased substantially for both Connecticut residents and students from other states. Adjust tuition and fees for inflation, and you’ll see that it’s also increased at a faster rate than inflation, but much more so for out-of-state students.

Growing enrollment

UConn is expecting to enroll 31,200 students next fall — a 2 percent increase over last fall and the most students the school ever will have enrolled.

Since enrollment began to rise in 1998, one out of every three new seats went to non-Connecticut residents. This has led to an increase in the percent of UConn students coming from out-of-state.

It’s unclear how many of the additional students will come from out of state this fall. Last fall, 89 percent of 632 additional students at UConn were not Connecticut residents.

There had always been a higher ratio of out-of-state to in-state graduate students compared to undergrads. But in recent years, the ratio of out-of-state graduate students has risen, while the undergrad ratio has stayed relatively steady since 2002.

The growth at UConn has come entirely from full-time students; the number of students attending part-time has steadily declined. Ten years ago, 79 percent of UConn’s students attended full-time compared to 86 percent last fall.

Accelerated spending

In real dollars, UConn’s spending has doubled since 2003. Adjust for inflation and you’ll see that it’s also increased at a faster rate than inflation. And the increase is not expected to slow, as officials estimate their costs will grow by another $70 million from fiscal 2016 to 2017 just to continue offering the same programs and employing the same number of people.

Personnel costs have always accounted for the largest share of UConn’s costs. These costs — which cover salaries, pension contributions and health benefits — have steadily grown. Over the last five years, $202 million of the $257 million in increased spending by UConn has gone to cover personnel costs.

Between 1997 and 2004, the share of UConn’s spending that has gone toward personnel costs declined. The trend has been reversed in the last four years, with a larger portion of the operating funds being spent on salaries, wages and health and retirement benefits as the public university hired more faculty and employees, provided pay raises and paid increased costs for benefits.

Faculty hiring has not kept pace with enrollment growth.

The number of faculty per student has dropped since 1990 and has not yet rebounded. It peaked in the mid–90s, with about 6.6 faculty per 100 students. In the last three fiscal years, the trend has been going up so there are more faculty per student.

The number of non-tenured faculty and other faculty have increased steadily since 1990, following the nationwide trend of increased reliance on adjunct professors.

When UConn officials approved a four-year tuition schedule that increases the cost of attending the school by nearly 30 percent, the school said it would use much of that additional revenue to hire 290 additional faculty so students could get the courses they need to graduate on time. Now heading into the last year of that schedule, UConn has added 177 faculty.

With more faculty comes more research activity — a tenet of UConn’s mission. While spending on research has increased significantly over the last 30 years, the pace of growth has slowed over the last four years.

The National Science Foundation — a federal agency that ranks research activity at universities — reports that while UConn has steadily been among the top 10 percent of schools in landing federal research money, it’s ranking in total spending on research has dropped over the last decade from 74th place to 86th.

More financial aid

The amount UConn spends on financial aid has kept pace with inflation. It also accounts for a larger share of UConn’s budget. In 2015, UConn students received $167.1 million in scholarships and financial aid. Just over half of that came from UConn, one-quarter from state and federal aid and the remainder from private scholarships.

A smaller emergency fund

The university’s rainy day fund, as a percentage of expenditures, has decreased significantly since the mid–90s.

Avatar photo

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

Leave a comment