UConn has announced that it will likely raise tuition over the course of the next four years. The university is currently facing a $40.2 million deficit in the next fiscal year, largely driven by rising costs and declining financial support from the state. The university is likely to reduce part of this deficit by increasing tuition.
While the university may have little choice at this point, UConn should do all it can to prevent large tuition increases. These increases place a large burden on students and families, especially those who rely on its affordable cost as a public university.
This announcement comes as the university is nearing the end of its last four year plan of tuition increases, adopted in fiscal year 2012. Since that plan’s adoption, in-state tuition has risen from $10,670 to $13,366, an increase of about 25 percent, as noted in The Hartford Courant.
On the other hand, the annual average wage in Connecticut increased from $62,159 in 2012 to $63,909 in 2014, an increase of only about 2.8 percent. With tuition rising at a far greater rate than wages, tuition payments are going to take up an increasingly larger proportion of families’ expenditures; the average value of student loans will also likely increase. These are very large financial burdens for UConn students and their parents that prevent them from spending their money in other, potentially more productive ways.
The university should do all it can to prevent placing this burden upon students. Unfortunately, some recent decisions demonstrate mismanaged planning and unnecessarily high expenditures that will likely cost students more than it will benefit them, at least in the short-run.
Perhaps most glaring is the university’s decision to spend $1 million to replace the roof of the Torrey Life Sciences building, despite its planned demolition in the near future. The return on this investment is going to be extraordinarily low; campus planning should be more careful and should seek to maximize returns on capital investments, giving students the greatest bang for their buck.
While UConn’s expensive Master Plan will likely yield long-term benefits, the high short-term costs, given the fiscal situation of the university, support a more gradual implementation that lessens the burden on students. Given the large burdens the cost of a university education places upon students, UConn must strive to make sure it uses its revenues wisely and maximizes returns for students. Spending should be conducted with foresight and care to keep costs low for students.