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Tuition Increase To Be Considered For State Universities, Community Colleges


February 18, 2013

Tuition and fees for Connecticut students at the state's four regional universities would rise by as much as $778 next year, while costs for out-of state students would drop slightly, under a proposal that will be considered Tuesday by the finance committee of the Board of Regents for Higher Education.

The move comes as the state universities face enrollment declines, rising costs and budget cuts.

Under the proposal, out-of-state students would still pay considerably more in tuition and fees than in-state students $19,074 vs. $8,990 but the board is considering cutting costs for out-of-state students as a way to attract more of them.

"Each of the universities expressed concern that the high cost of the out-of-state rate was a major deterrent to attracting out-of-state students," a staff report states. The percentage of full-time undergraduates enrolled dropped by 2.6 percent last fall, while the percentage of full-time graduate students went down by 6.3 percent.

For the coming year, Central, Southern and Western are all projecting decreases in full- and part-time enrollment, while Eastern is projecting flat enrollment for next year. Western, in Danbury, foresees the most dramatic declines in enrollment: a 4.2 percent drop for in-state undergraduates; a 15 percent drop for out-of-state students; and a 14 percent decrease in graduate enrollment.

The board's finance committee will consider the proposal at its Tuesday morning meeting in Hartford. If approved, it would then go to the entire board for consideration, perhaps next month.

"Each of the universities expressed concern that the high cost of the out-of-state rate was a major deterrent to attracting out-of-state students," the proposal said. A decline in costs for those students "would improve marketing," the proposal states.

An education at one of the state's four regional universities remains a relative bargain, with tuition and fees at the Connecticut schools ranking in the bottom third of public institutions in the Northeast. The system, which includes the four state universities but not the University of Connecticut plus the community college system, has about 100,000 students.

The proposal before the Board of Regents also calls for a 5.23 percent increase in tuition and fees for community college students a $188 increase.

Lewis J. Robinson Jr., chairman of the board, could not be reached for comment. But Michael Fraser, a board member who is a student at Western Connecticut State University, said he would not support a tuition increase.

"I'm tired of making up for the losses in state allocation, making up for these fiscal problems on the backs of students," Fraser said. "I'm really tired of that and I think most students are."

Colleen Flanagan Johnson, spokeswoman for the regents, said Monday in an email that the finance committee "will review tuition and fee proposals tomorrow, understanding that, in this fiscal climate, any increase can be difficult for our students to absorb. The Regents are particularly mindful of the affordable option our institutions have represented for in-state students, while at the same time, are seeking to make our institutions more attractive to out-of-state students who pay additional money to attend."

If approved, Connecticut students living on campus would pay 4.1 percent more next year or $778 more while in-state commuter students would pay 5.1 percent more, or $434. Out-of-state students, meanwhile, would receive a 2.6 percent cut in tuition, or $514, and another 0.6 percent reduction in housing, food service and other fees, a savings of $170.

In the past two years, the state universities' state allotment has dropped by $28 million, or 17 percent. Against "this backdrop of reduced state funding," the proposals says, are factors that will result in higher operating costs next year, including an estimated 5 percent increase in salaries for employees in collective bargaining units.

Earlier this year, the finance committee looked at options for tuition-fee increases that went as high as 12 percent. At that time, William Bowes, chief financial officer for the regents, said he didn't expect the regents to go with a double-digit increase, but he expected it would be at least 6 percent.

The University of Connecticut, which is the only state university not governed by the Board of Regents, plans to increase tuition and fees by 6 percent next year.

If the increases are approved, in-state students living on campus would pay $19,897 in the fall, while out-of-state students would pay $29,981.

Many new fees or increases in fees are also part of the proposal. New fees include a $25 per semester language laboratory fee at Southern. At Western, new per-semester fees include $500 for music; $300 for art; $350 for theater; and $450 for musical theater.

Last year, the board raised tuition and fees for commuter students at the state universities by an average of 3.8 percent. That meant that last fall, the average commuter student paid $8,556 in tuition and fees $315 more than in the previous year.

At the state's community colleges, the average tuition and fees went up 3.1 percent, raising tuition by $108, to $3,598, this year.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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