The Connecticut State Colleges & Universities’ Board of Regents for Higher Education has voted unanimously to increase tuition and fees at its four Connecticut state universities – including Western Connecticut State in Danbury – and at online Charter Oak State College.
Under the adopted structure, tuition for students at the universities – which also include Central Connecticut State in New Britain, Eastern Connecticut State in Willimantic and Southern Connecticut State in New Haven – will increase by 5 percent while mandatory university fees will be held flat and room fee increases will be capped at 2.5 percent.
All told, average tuition and fees at CSCU universities will increase by $479 or 4.4 percent for an in-state undergraduate commuter student and by $860 or 3.6 percent for in-state residential students. Tuition for Charter Oak students will increase by 2.9 percent, while fees will increase by 4.2 percent.
“Tuition increases are always a last resort, and the board did not take this decision lightly,” CSCU President Mark Ojakian said. “We have always maintained that we would not balance budgets on the backs of students, and this step is no exception. Even despite the increase, we anticipate drawing down on up to $20 million in university reserves. Our state colleges and universities are and will continue to be the most affordable and accessible option for Connecticut students to receive quality and affordable higher education.”
Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget proposal calls for flat funding plus partial coverage of State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) raises. Without additional state funding, the CSCU tuition increase is expected to leave its universities with a budget gap of approximately $20 million. The ultimate shortfall will be closed with use of reserves, campus spending reductions or a combination, according to CSCU.
Without a tuition increase, the budget gap would be $31.7 million, according to Ojakian. He is continuing to lead the fight for his “Students First” plan, which involves consolidating CSCU’s 12 community colleges into one state college by 2023. The estimated annual savings involved would be about $23 million.
An additional $11 million in estimated savings would come from consolidating administrative functions at all 17 CSCU institutions.
In the meantime, tuition increases at CSCU’s community colleges, which include Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport and Norwalk Community College, are expected to be discussed by CSCU next week.