The University of Connecticut may institute tuition increases for the fall of 2019 – and State Sen. Len Fasano isn’t happy about it.
“The extravagance and overspending we have seen at UConn continues to take a toll on its students,” said the Senate Republican President Pro Tempore. “For years, UConn’s spending on questionable priorities with little oversight has been out of control. UConn has made contracts and commitments that they cannot afford.
“At the same time they have imposed tuition increases and blamed the state for their issues, the school has also awarded exorbitant raises and allowed spending to go unchecked,” Fasano continued. “The problems they face today were self-created by a university that has failed to live within its means and has shown questionable judgement, prioritizing administrative bloat over the needs of their students.”
Fasano’s remarks came in the wake of the administration at UConn, which maintains a satellite campus in Stamford, submitting a budget proposal to its Board of Trustees’ Financial Affairs Committee, which included projecting potential shortfalls of about $29 million in 2020 and $63 million the following year. The fall of 2019 is supposed to be the last year of a four-year plan of tuition increases.
Tuition and fees are the single-largest source for the school’s main budget, providing some 40 percent of its revenue.
The university maintains that tuition increases may be necessary in the face of a number of factors, including its having to pay more in unfunded pension liabilities – which it said has driven the cost of fringe benefits up from $148.3 million in 2011 to a projected $277 million in 2019 – and that it must contribute to the recent agreement the state made with unionized employees. The $2,000 one-time payment that each employee gets amounts to $20 million in costs for UConn, only part of which is reimbursed, according to the university.
According to Fasano, however, much of the university’s troubles can be blamed on itself and on UConn President Susan Herbst.
“UConn’s president has been paid significantly more than presidents at other universities,” he said. “In addition to her base pay, other perks have included retirement benefits, cars, houses and deferred compensation.”
As part of Herbst’s contract, Fasano continued, “even after she retires from leading the university she is guaranteed a tenured position teaching political science making at least $300,000, if not more.”
Herbst announced last month that she plans to leave UConn in the summer of 2019.
Fasano further said that the UConn Foundation “has used funds for questionable expenditures and lobbied against transparency of how it spends its funding” and disparaged how it has negotiated contracts with union workers.
The UConn Board of Trustees will vote on the fiscal year 2019 budget on June 27.