Once again, the University of Connecticut is faced with likely budget cuts during the upcoming legislative session of the Connecticut General Assembly. The university lost almost 30 million dollars in state funding as a result of last year’s budget, which affects the current fiscal year. While these are substantial reductions in funds, original cuts were millions of dollars higher. Thanks to a combined effort from students, the UConn administration and our state representatives, funding cuts were not as large as they could have been.
It will take a similar effort going forward to prevent large cuts to UConn’s state funding. UConn and other state agencies have been notified to prepare for a loss in funding of approximately 10 percent for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. This could potentially threaten the economic predictability that UConn is striving to maintain for its students. The university wants to stick to its four-year tuition scaling plan that was voted for in late 2015, as they believe students deserve to know what they will be paying.
Deviations from this plan will in all likelihood not occur, unless a drastic financially harmful event comes along. The 10 percent decrease in funding is not likely to trigger any changes on its own. However, the university cannot continue to lose this level of funding while committing to current tuition plans.
Fundamentally, UConn by itself does not have the power to reverse its trend. But the UConn Administration and students must continue to work together to mitigate the damage. Part of this effort has to come at the state level. Student groups travel to the capitol often to advocate against budget cuts, noting that investments in college students often have an astounding return on investment down the line. The administration must also use what influence it has to convince state legislators to slash funding as little as possible.
Legislators have to be made aware that they cannot turn to university students to meet the budget shortfalls that they have. Cutting university funding essentially guarantees a tuition increase, which is more or less a way of raising taxes on citizens without outwardly doing so. College students across the nation already greatly struggle financially. Dipping into their pockets to fix problems that are not remotely their fault is immoral and cruel. State legislators must be pressured to look for alternative solutions to these monetary problems.