SCSU women's track and field at a championship event in May. SCSU Athletics

I am currently a student at Southern Connecticut State University, studying communication with a concentration in advertising and promotions. I currently live off campus in New Haven and commute daily to Southern multiple times a day as I am also a member of the women’s soccer team.

I’m writing this letter with great concern for the future of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities and to share my story about going to a four-year institution in Connecticut.

Unfortunately for me, I was not granted a full scholarship to play sports at the collegiate level. Because of this, I will continue to pay off the debt of student loans for the vast majority of my life.

I along with many other students across all schools in Connecticut am concerned that the budget cuts will make it continuously harder for students to enroll in college due to potential increases in the costs of tuition. State schools give me and thousands of other students the opportunity to juggle having a job and going to school, playing a sport and going to school, or doing all three of those things. My mother has been extremely supportive throughout my college career and helping with payments as much as she can. I come from a single-parent household, and my mother recently had to leave her job.

My mother was an administrator at an elementary school in the town I am from, and because of this education has always been a huge part of my life and taken very seriously. I was extremely fortunate to receive some money athletically, but not enough to the point where I know I will be living comfortably after graduating from SCSU.

Throughout my years at Southern Connecticut State University, I have grown to love certain parts of the process and dislike other parts. Due to such a low enrollment in many of my courses, the trajectory of my last semester senior year was changed drastically. Upon my last semester of senior year, I checked my course schedule after winter break and realized that three out of my four final classes were dropped due to Southern not having enough funding to run the course with such low enrollment. This of course did not only affect me, but it affected my professors as well, as they now will have to make up the classes that got dropped. This experience was stressful to say the least and could have been avoidable.

Our graduates from all Connecticut institutions tend to stay in Connecticut after the duration of their time at one of the state universities. With all of the ample opportunities for college graduates in Connecticut, it is crucial that the budget remains the same or increases. The current and incoming students attending the institutions of Connecticut are of utmost importance because we are the future of this state. Budget cuts for four-year universities are something I would never have thought I would hear about during my time at Southern.

There are many people like me and there are many people less fortunate than I who received no money to go to school and who must pay for their own school. Unlike many of our state representatives, current and past governors, and higher-ups in charge of our schooling, I did not have the means to attend prestigious colleges and universities.

I hope everyone in a position of power understands the great importance of the state’s four-year universities, community colleges, etc., and their benefit to the future workers of Connecticut.

Julia Alicea is a graduating senior at Southern Connecticut State University.