University to Pause Connecticut Commitment Student Aid Program

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President Thomas Katsouleas announced a new initiative to help low income students in the state of Connecticut obtain a higher education at his inauguration. The Connecticut Commitment is now on pause due to budget deficits. Photo by Kevin Lindstrom/The Daily Campus.

On Wednesday, University of Connecticut President Thomas Katsouleas announced that the university would pause its Connecticut Commitment student financial aid program for the foreseeable future due to budget deficits.

The Connecticut Commitment was initiated last October and seeks to fulfill all financial need for in-state students whose families make less than $50,000 a year. The program pays the difference between the financial aid received from grants and scholarships and the total cost of tuition.

 “The goal of the program is to enhance access and affordability for low-income students attending UConn and draw prospective students to apply here who may have otherwise thought that UConn was out of reach for them financially,” Katsouleas said.  

     The Connecticut Commitment is completely funded by philanthropy and private donations. The cost to run the Connecticut Commitment this year is about $700,000. The program’s cost is estimated to increase with each new class to a total of $5 million by year four.  

“We will not achieve the goal of raising enough to cover the full cost of the program over the next four years,” Katsouleas said. “We are not confident that we will be able to fund the program beyond the first cohort of students.”

260 students are currently enrolled in the first cohort of the program, which began with this fall’s freshman class of 2024.  

“We have the cash necessary to fund the first year of the first cohort of UConn students who qualified for the program and that is a commitment we will keep to them through their fourth year at UConn,” Katsouleas said. “No student who arrived this fall and who benefits from the program will lose anything. We made a promise to these students and we will keep it.” 

President Katsouleas stated alternative methods of funding were taken into account before making the ultimate decision to suspend the program until further notice.

 “Consideration was given to potentially funding the program through some avenue other than philanthropy, and while that may have been a viable possibility in another time, it is not an option in this budget environment,” Katsouleas said.  

Despite the announcement, Katsouleas made clear the fundraising efforts for the program will not cease, but instead will be reignited when the program can run again.

“I am doubling my personal multi-year pledge to Connecticut Commitment and hope the other 500 donors who gave to the program will consider doing the same and perhaps inspire others to join,” Katsouleas said. 

Katsouleas and the board of trustees said financial aid is one of their top priorities for the future of the university, with about $200 million being invested in financial aid this year.

“Pausing the program is the hardest decision I’ve had to make since arriving here. While unfortunate and regrettable, I believe that this is a prudent and necessary choice to make at this time,” concluded President Katsouleas.

In a press release, university spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz stated the administration would reassess the program later in the fiscal year to discuss the possibility of resuming it in 2022.  

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