Tuition rising another 5% at Connecticut State Colleges & Universities
Get ready to pay even more to send your kids to Connecticut State Colleges and Universities next fall.
Despite fierce protests, the Board of Regents approved a 5% tuition increase on Thursday – just weeks after the system announced major cutbacks.
"STUDENTS ARE NOT AN ATM"
This is the second tuition hike in a row for the CSCU system – which includes Western, Southern, Central and Eastern Connecticut State Universities, as well as a dozen community colleges.
Before the vote, students told regents that enough is enough.
"Students are not an ATM that this board can go to when its own mismanagement initiatives catch up with it," said Xander Tyler, a senior at Central Connecticut State University.
So how much will this cost you?
Students at community colleges will pay an extra $246 in tuition and fees beginning in the fall of 2024. At state universities, it's $990 more – including room and board.
"If it's going to cost more, it's going to kind of put a bigger gap between the kids that want to go to college and stuff," said Aidan Springer, a student at Connecticut State Community College's Norwalk campus. "It's already such a difficult thing."
PAYING MORE FOR LESS
While students are paying more, they're getting less. Last month, the system announced cuts to faculty and course offerings in order to avoid even deeper tuition hikes.
Some students now have to travel an hour to other campuses for classes.
"If I want to take another class, I have to go to Housatonic, Gateway," said Cansu Celebi, another Norwalk student.
WHY THE INCREASE?
Regents said the increase was unavoidable after a very public budget fight with Gov. Ned Lamont, who has argued that public schools need to "live within their means." The CSCU system is facing a $140 million deficit for the 2024-25 school year.
"We are doing the best we can," said CSCU Chancellor Terrence Cheng. "The state of Connecticut's biennium budget allocation for CSCU falls significantly short of what is necessary to maintain our existing levels of operations."
The Lamont administration argued that CSCU and the University of Connecticut actually got more state funding this year. But overall funding is less because federal pandemic aid ended, and enrollment is still struggling to recover from COVID.
"Under Gov. Lamont, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system has received historic levels of state funding," said Lamont spokesperson Julia Bergman. "The federal COVID relief funding provided in recent years to the system was always intended to be one-time in nature. We continue to work with the CSCU system to both identify savings and ways to attract additional students."
The administration is seeking a third party to review CSCU spending. But regents argue that a change to how benefits are paid unfairly saddled them with tens of millions of dollars in new expenses.
Only one regent, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, voted no on the increases.
"I understand the financial need," she said. "I just have a very strong feeling that it shouldn't be done on the backs of the students until we have our stuff in order."
COULD HIKES BACKFIRE?
Lamont has made workforce training a top priority for turning Connecticut's economy around. Community colleges are a major part of that strategy, but students warned that charging more will drive them away.
"If you vote on a tuition hike, you will vote on me dropping out," Rosimar Quinones, a sociology student at Capital Community College, told regents.
One sector Connecticut desperately needs is nurses. Norwalk community college student Joshua Cummings is studying nursing but said higher tuition could deter others from pursuing the field.
"School is already kind of expensive as it is, and for it go up more, probably going to be a little bit more tough," he said
HELP FOR STUDENTS
Help is available though.