State University Trustees To Consider Freezing Tuition
There's Also A Proposal Not To Increase Salaries For Management and Nonunion Employees
By GRACE E. MERRITT
September 20, 2010
In a concession to the poor economy, the Connecticut State University System will consider freezing tuition and fees for the first time in more than a decade.
Tuition at the state universities has climbed for many years, from 5.4 percent to as much as 13 percent. On Monday, many students said a freeze would be a welcome relief.
"It would be awesome. It is kind of expensive enough now," said Sara Perran, 18, or Harwinton, a first-year student at Central Connecticut State University.
The system's board of trustees is expected to vote on the freeze Thursday, along with a proposal to freeze salaries for management and nonunion employees.
"We recognize the economic challenges facing many of our students and their families and will remain steadfast in our commitment to providing affordable, accessible, high-quality education," said Karl J. Krapek, chairman of the CSUS board of trustees.
The freeze would keep the average cost of attending one of the four state universities at $17,997 in tuition and fees for students living on campus. Commuting students would pay an average of $8,043.
The freeze would be the first since the 1999-2000 academic year. The system enrolls 36,000 students who attend Central, Eastern, Southern and Western Connecticut state universities.
"I think it's a very good idea, especially because there have been so many tuition increases over the years," said Cory Moshier, 24, of Rocky Hill, who attends Central.
But university officials were cautious Monday, and said several factors could affect whether the freeze is enacted or how long it could last.
Bernard Kavaler, a spokesman for the state university system, said the trustees' finance committee wanted to recommend the tuition freeze, but said the full board may need to adjust the rates depending on how much the system receives in state financial support.
The university system relies on tuition and state money to operate. The state's share of the system's budget has dropped from 48 percent to just under 40 percent in the past decade, Kavaler said.
Over the past 10 years, tuition increases have ranged from a low of 5.4 percent in 2009-10 to 13 percent in 2003-04. Rates went up this fall by 6.3 percent.
Despite the increases, CSUS rate increases have been below the national average in seven of the past nine years, Kavaler said. In addition, the cost of attending Connecticut's state universities is among the lowest for public universities in the Northeast, he said.
While the state system will vote on the tuition freeze this week, it is still too early to know what the University of Connecticut will do. The UConn board of trustees doesn't set tuition until February, spokesman Michael Kirk said. UConn increased tuition by 5.66 percent this fall and by 6 percent the previous year, he said.
The CSUS board of trustees is also expected to impose a yearlong salary freeze for 165 nonunion employees and managers, the second such freeze in the past three years.
After a salary freeze in the 2009-10 academic year, the trustees were criticized this summer for approving raises for this fall ranging from 5 percent to 10 percent, including increases of 8 percent to 10.3 percent for the system's chancellor, David G. Carter, and presidents of the system's four campuses.
The trustees said the increase for the "pay equity" raises for the chancellor and the four presidents was recommended in a salary study done in 2006, but Gov. M. Jodi Rell called the raises "intolerable" during a deep recession when the state faces a $3.4 billion budget deficit for fiscal 2012 and 2,800 other non-union state managers won't be getting pay raises.
The trustees in July subsequently rescinded raises over 5 percent, generally keeping raises more in line with raises for union employees, Kavaler said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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