Tuition Hike Likely to Offset Budget Cuts

CCSU President Jack Miller confirmed Wednesday that there will in fact be a tuition increase for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Though the exact percentage is still being negotiated, the tuition hike will come as a direct result of the dramatic budget cuts the Connecticut State University system is facing. “We have to do the very best we can to hold it to a reasonable number,” said President Miller, “but it’s safe to say there will be some tuition increase.”

The Hartford Courant reported on December 28 that Connecticut State University Chancellor, David G. Carter, proposed waiving the 15 percent cap on tuition increases if the budget is cut 10 percent or more.

“I’ve been in higher education for 35 years, in five different states,” President Miller said, “and this has the potential for being the worst I’ve ever seen.”

To help ease the blow on students from middle and low-income families, President Miller promises financial aid will not decrease.

“A substantial part of whatever the increase is would go back to financial aid to help people pay for that increase,” he said.

If Governor Jodi Rell’s budget is enacted, the CSU system schools will each suffer a five-percent budget cut for the current year, and another five next year. In addition to the cut, Rell suggests 295 full-time positions be eliminated by the end of the 2011 fiscal year.

The CCSU tuition, which has increased 47 percent since spring 2003, just saw a 4 percent hike before the start of this academic year.

Student Government Association President Alexander Estrom said that raising the cost of college for students will not compensate for the amount of money lost due to budget cuts, however, and could end up pricing many students out of the opportunity to return next semester.

“Our financial aid needed improvement in the best of times, it certainly needs improvement now,” Estrom said. “That is not consistent with Governor Rell’s ideals. From what I can tell, Governor Rell is interested in keeping financial aid where it’s at.”

The University of Connecticut has delayed action on a proposal to raise tuition 8.7 percent at the request of Governor Jodi Rell, who also issued a press release on Feb. 9 requesting the Board of Trustees defer from any discussion about tuition increases.

In a Dean’s meeting with the Arts and Humanities chairs, a departmental budget cut of 10 percent was announced for the current fiscal year, with word of 20 percent next year. Internships and independent studies will face harsh curtailing, and low-enrolled classes will be carefully scrutinized.

“I think we will weather the storm,” said Dr. Laura Tordenti, Vice President of Student Affairs, “but it will mean changing the way we deliver programs.”

President Miller said to avoid a direct impact on course offerings, professors should not expect layoffs, but administrative positions are not being refilled as they are vacated. The budget report, to be sent to the Board of Trustees for approval in mid- March, will raise issues of priority amongst
programs and services on campus.

The Student Government Association feels that programs and services that will benefit CCSU as a whole, such as funds for career fairs, should remain untouched.

Tordenti said the focus of Student Affairs, however, will be to preserve services that maintain health and counseling to students, such as the Counseling and Wellness center and security in residence halls.

“These are the kind of times that demand that we rise to the occasion and be more resourceful than ever,” Tordenti said. “It might be beneficial in helping us find more creative ways to deliver programs.”

-Tonya Malinowski, Staff Writer. Published in the 2.18/09 issue of The Recorder

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