Connecticut Commitment will cost $1 million per class

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Lower-income Connecticut residents admitted to UConn as undergraduates will receive free tuition starting with the fall 2020 entering class, President Thomas C. Katsouleas announced Friday as he was inaugurated as UConn's 16th president.  Photo by Kevin Lindstrom/The Daily Campus

Lower-income Connecticut residents admitted to UConn as undergraduates will receive free tuition starting with the fall 2020 entering class, President Thomas C. Katsouleas announced Friday as he was inaugurated as UConn’s 16th president. Photo by Kevin Lindstrom/The Daily Campus

The Connecticut Commitment is estimated to cost about $1 million per class per year, according to University of Connecticut’s vice president for enrollment planning and management Nathan Fuerst.

Current students are not eligible for the program, which provides incoming Connecticut residents who come from families with an annual income of under $50,000 to attend UConn tuition-free. 

“We want to first make sure the resources are there for [incoming] students to keep getting this every year,” Fuerst said. 

Fuerst said the cost of the program is not as expensive as it seems, as 75% of the students who are eligible for the commitment would already come in with their tuition covered through university scholarships and grants. 

“We just need to supplement the remaining 25% [of students],” Fuerst said.

Fuerst said they have a long term goal of creating an endowment fund for the program, and raising enough funds for the short term. 

“Our goal is to raise about $100 million to endow the program in perpetuity,” Scott M. Roberts, president and CEO of the UConn Foundation said. “We believe this can be done over the next several years. Simultaneously, we will be raising expendable funds that will be used annually to cover the cost of the program until the endowment is fully funded.” 

Fuerst also said over the past few years, the university has increased the amount of money allocated to financial aid, which comes from the university’s central budget. 

The university currently gives $190 million in financial aid across all classes per year, Fuerst said.

“[The Connecticut Commitment] will use what we usually use to cover financial aid,” Fuerst said. 

The program will cover the cost of tuition, but for students who are coming in with outside scholarships and grants that already exclusively cover the cost of their tuition, a credit in the amount of tuition will be dispersed to student’s other expenses, like housing, a meal plan and other fees, according to Fuerst. 

Rollover money will become a credit on your bill which can also be turned into a refund check. If a student is living in off campus housing, for example, they can use that refund check to pay for rent and groceries, Fuerst said. 

The Connecticut Commitment program will not affect the admission process, Fuerst assured. 

“Admissions and scholarships happen first and they happen together,” Fuerst said. 

If a student’s financial status changes throughout their undergraduate career and their annual household income drops to under $50,000, they can become eligible for the Connecticut Commitment, Fuerst said. Students can also become un-eligible if their annual household income increases to above $50,000. 

“We would love to increase [the $50,000 threshold] to the median income of the state,” Fuerst said about the long term goals of the program. 

Undocumented students who fill out the Institutional Financial Aid Application for Students without Legal Immigration Status are also applicable to recieve the Connecticut Commitment aid, Fuerst said. 

“We’ve been working with Connecticut Students for a Dream to help spread the word,” Fuerst said. 

Fuerst estimates the Connecticut Commitment will assist 900-1,500 students per class. 

“We want to finance through philanthropy,” Fuerst said. “This program is designed for low income students who may not enter [the university] at all without it.” 

Thumbnail photo courtesy of Kevin Lindstrom / The Daily Campus.


Ashley Anglisano is the associate news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at ashley.anglisano@uconn.edu.

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