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Tuition Increase Will Maintain CSU Standards

By Ashley Foy

The final numbers for Connecticut State University System’s 2010-2011 tuition increase have been finalized as 6.3 percent for commuter students and 5.6 percent for students living on campus in order to accommodate for a decrease in state funds during this troubling financial situation.

The increase translates to roughly an additional $477 for commuters and $950 for residents across the CSU system.

Noted in a December news release by the office of spokesman Bernard Kavaler, the CSU system returned $1 million of student funds back to the state in the 2010 fiscal year, and on top of that, will be asked to return $3 million of student funds for the 2011 fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2010.

State funding has been reduced by $750,000 for the 2010 fiscal year and the system anticipates a similar cut for the 2011 fiscal year. Fixed costs such as building maintenance remain as a huge factor in the inflated increases.

CCSU’s Interim VP of Student Affairs Laura Tordenti said that the budget deficit that the state is facing will continue to negatively affect funding for higher education. “Because of this reduction in State support, the tuition increase is needed to offset increased administrative costs like inflationary increases for utilities,” Tordenti wrote in an email.

As a direct result of decreased state financial support, the CSU system has implemented ways to save money including restrictions on out-of-state travel, reduced overtime, energy efficiency and altered contracts with vendors.

According to the press release, two of their most effective spending cuts were a salary freeze for non-union staff and a general staff freeze across the system. The staff freeze is expected to save just under $20 million since its implementation in May 2008; the salary freeze ordered by the CSU Board of Trustees in March 2009 is estimated to have saved the system $4 million.

Decreases in salary expenses and new hires, paired with a 10 percent cut in staff by the end of the 2010 fiscal year, come at a time when undergraduate enrollment numbers are at an all-time high.

CCSU students struggling to deal with the costs of rising tuition will wonder not only how they will afford tuition, but also how they will benefit from the increases.

“Students have to understand that the increase is needed to keep our faculty and classes here,” said CCSU student government president and CSUS student advisory board president Andrew Froning.

Tordenti seems to be of the same opinion as Froning in terms of the tuition increase being more about maintaining the quality of CCSU in a hard economic time, rather than improving and expanding the programs offered.

“The money from the tuition increase will …. enable us to continue to 1) provide high quality, widely recognized academic programs and important support services; 2) provide overall support for financial aid for students, which includes scholarships and funds for student employment; and 3) make improvements to the campus,” Tordenti wrote.

“Even with the increase, CCSU’s tuition and fees are lower than any other public four-year institution in the State of Connecticut and are below the national average for public institutions.”