UConn Board of Trustees approves 4 years of tuition hikes

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STORRS  — The University of Connecticut's Board of Trustees approved a plan Wednesday that would raise tuition at the school by more than 30 percent over the next four years.

The board voted Wednesday morning on the proposal, which would bring tuition for in-state students from the current $10,524 to $13,799 in the 2019-20 school year. Tuition for out-of-state students would go from $32,066 to $36,466. There were 2 nays in the group - the student reps on the board. 1 student represents undergraduate students, the other represents graduate students.

"As a trustee elected by the students for the purpose of representing the students, I can't at this time support the tuition proposal," Undergraduate Student Trustee David Rifkin told Fox61.

Rifkin, at least from every student Fox61 spoke with, did indeed speak for the student body.

"I feel like it's unfair that we came here with a set price and that price is being lifted," Patrick Norris, an in-state UConn freshman, said.

The first increase would come next fall, when tuition would rise $700 for in-state students and $950 for out-of-state students.

Scott Jordan, the school's CFO, says the revenue is needed to help close a projected $40 million gap in the school's $1.3 billion budget.

Without it, he says the school would need major cuts in staffing, classes and other programming.

You can read President Susan Herbst's full remarks here:

“This past June, I was paging through a Connecticut newspaper that had devoted a section to area valedictorians and salutatorians in the year’s high school graduating class.

The little write-ups for each graduate mentioned where they were going to school in fall.

As I looked at each, I saw that many of them – maybe even most – were going to UConn.

And those students who were not coming here had chosen to attend another truly outstanding school, including a number of Ivy League institutions.

The fact so many of these top students – and many others from across the state – are choosing UConn speaks volumes about this university and the role it plays in Connecticut.

The reason UConn attracts so many of Connecticut’s best students is because it combines academic quality with affordability – both of which would be maintained under this four-year plan.

Simply put, UConn offers an exceptional education at a great value.

To attend UConn, it costs an in-state student a fraction of what it would cost them to attend any of UConn’s competitors – public or private – and that isn’t going to change in the next four years.

We are seeking a tuition increase for two reasons:

We must close what will be at least a $40 million budget deficit next year with more deficits likely in years to come as the state’s budget difficulties continue.

We must also maintain our academic quality for the long-term while closing those deficits.

Maintaining academic quality means ensuring UConn has enough outstanding faculty to teach all the classes that need to be offered – so students can graduate on time – as well as modern labs and classrooms, and adequate financial aid for our students.

Next year’s deficit was created by rising mandatory costs that are beyond our control and shortfalls in state support to pay for them.

But please note that the state has invested greatly in UConn over the last two decades and we’re not complaining.

Our state’s leadership has been incredibly supportive of UConn and I believe they would invest more in higher education, if the resources were there to do so.

When it comes to UConn’s finances going forward, we’re not facing an either/or question.

The reality is that we need to increase tuition and cut costs simultaneously in order to generate the resources needed to protect academic quality and student outcomes.

In fact, most of the gap next year will be closed through cost-cutting.

But we must bear this in mind: No university cuts its way to success.

No university strengthens academics by slashing academic budgets.

No university supports positive student outcomes by having fewer faculty, bigger classes, or reduced financial aid.

That is what we are seeking to avoid.

There is a focus on the U.S. News rankings as a beauty contest or a horse race; it is neither.

The truth is that U.S. News measures many of the things that are important to UConn and every university, including academic quality and student outcomes.

When we express concern about falling in the rankings, it’s not about losing a spot on a list; the true concern is academic decline and diminished student success because of a lack of resources.

Any public research university that says it is willing to accept decline or settle for being just average is doing a poor job of serving its students, the students’ families, and their state.

That is why our approach is to work to maintain high quality, rather than choosing decline.

Our job is to assemble the resources needed to keep UConn strong academically for our current and future students, and for the state, which has invested so much in UConn to make it the outstanding university that it is.

We need to stay there.”