Board of Regents approves tuition increase for state college system

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HARTFORD -- A plan to increase tuition at all 17 campuses of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system passed with just one nay vote.

The full Board of Regents voted on the proposals Tuesday. The finance committee of the Board of Regents for Higher Education approved the tuition increases Monday.

The hike calls for a 5 percent increase at the four state universities, not including the University of Connecticut, boosting tuition to over $10,000. Community college tuition will increase 3.5 percent to nearly $4,200, and tuition at Charter Oak State College will increase 4 percent to just over $9,000.

The president of the state college and university system, Mark Ojakian, says the increases are needed partially because of an expected $26 million cut in state funding to the system.

"If we did nothing, we would have, I think, entire programs eliminated, entire student functions eliminated," said Ojakian to reporters after the meeting.

Before the vote, board member Matt Fleury lamented the increase but said it could be even higher.

"There is considerable risk in this proposal because these increases leave deficits in all sectors," said Fleury, who added that even if everything else worked out perfectly, the current hike leaves the budget with an $18 million gap.

The approved proposal also includes cuts, a hold on some salaries and a hiring freeze.

Student Jennifer Messervy is not happy with the hike, but is also somewhat jaded. "It does seem to happen almost every year, so I think a lot of students become kind of passive and surrender to it," she said.

No students spoke out during the public comment portion of Tuesday's meeting despite a full hour allotted for them to do so. Messervy wasn't surprised.

"We're calloused to it because it continues to happen," she said. "People just seem very passive about it because it's just kind of normal."

Diba Khan-Bureau, a professor at Three Rivers Community College, asked about higher ups' salaries.

"We have upper management, we have many administrators. Maybe we need to find a way to reduce that number, maybe we need to find a way to reduce that type of pay," said Khan-Bureau.

Ojakian countered that when pressed by FOX 61. "If you look at the percent of administrative salaries as a total of the entire budget, it's about two percent. So it may be a good faith gesture to do that but I think we have a bigger issue to deal with than maybe getting $300,000 or $400,000. We have an $18 million budget deficit we're going to have to deal with," said Ojakian.