UConn considering tuition increase to close budget gap

In this file photo, members of the UConn Board of Trustees listen as university president Susan Herbst (second from left) speaks during the board's meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. (Allen Lang/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut is considering tuition increases, workforce reductions and academic program cuts to close a $40.2 million budget gap in the coming fiscal year, according to university officials.

“We have a lot of time to solve this,” chief financial officer Scott Jordan told members of the board of trustees financial affairs committee Wednesday morning. “But now is the time we need to start talking about the things we need to do.”

Jordan said tuition increases alone could cover “just less than half” of the budget gap in the 2017 fiscal year, which begins next July. However, he said projections for the next fiscal year are based on current state funding levels, which he conceded could decline due to state budgetary issues. He also said UConn is preparing for further cuts in the current fiscal year.

Tuition at the university is $10,524 annually for in-state students while out-of-state students pay $32,066 each year. The direct cost of attendance, which includes room and board as well as mandatory fees, is $25,540 for in-state students and $47,082 for out-of-state students.

“All of the trends are that tuition is going to have to be increased,” Jordan said. “Not raising tuition could have a number of impacts.”

Jordan said these impacts include a decline in the university’s national ranking, closing regional campuses, increased class sizes, fewer courses offered, elimination of academic programs and less access for low-income students.

“UConn does not want to reduce sports or cut any important programs, but something has to give if we find ourselves in a dire financial situation,” Jordan told reporters.

In an effort to increase revenue, the university is considering further increases in enrollment, more online and summer programs, increased partnership with businesses and growing philanthropy, Jordan said.

Jordan also said the university has to continue pushing to become more efficient and slow down faculty hiring. He also said further workforce reductions and cuts to academic programs and departments are being discussed, though he said, “these are things we’d prefer not to do.”

“This conversation is happening at every public university nationwide,” Jordan said. “We need to be careful about how we price ourselves and the level and the types of financial aid we provide.”

UConn has already implemented workforce reductions, a faculty hiring slowdown, academic program elimination, reduced library hours and financial aid cuts among other measures as a result of lower state funding levels, according to Jordan.

UConn Provost Mun Choi told members of the financial affairs committee tenure-track faculty hiring had already been cut by three-fourths in the last year. Choi said 126 tenure-track faculty were added two years ago, but only 30 were added last year. He said this resulted in the student-to-faculty ratio increasing from 16.3 to 16.8.

Jordan told committee members he would like to see a final plan on a possible tuition increase in place before the end of the year.

“Tuition is one of the revenue elements that is in our control and that is why it is on the table,” Jordan told reporters. “We need to balance affordability and accessibility with our need to close the budget.”

Jordan told reporters that the university would likely close about 20 to 30 percent of the $40.2 million gap with the tuition increase. UConn would rely on tuition increases to generate $8 to $12.5 million dollars. Every 1 percent increase in tuition generates $2.6 million, UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said.

UConn officials have not committed to a specific range for the proposed increase. 

Jordan and other university officials invite students, staff and concerned citizens to attend a town hall-style meeting Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Dodd Center’s Konover Auditorium.


Kyle Constable is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kyle.constable@uconn.edu. He tweets @KyleConstable

Jon Hull is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at jonathan.hull@uconn.edu.