University leaders are discussing increasing student fees for the 2023-2024 academic year. These fees do not include tuition, which was already approved to increase by $660 next academic year for all students regardless of campus.
Lloyd Blanchard, the Interim Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer at the University of Connecticut, outlined the proposed student fees increase during one of several Town Halls held with the UConn community.
“For Storrs undergraduate students, we are proposing a 4.8% increase in certain fees overall for commuter students, but it would amount to only a 3.9% increase for students who live on our campus. In effect, we are asking for a $272 increase in student fees. And I believe this will be distinct from the Room and Board fees. For our students at our regional campuses, we are looking to propose an increase of $162 which amounts to about a 4.9% increase,” Blanchard said.
A $374 increase to the Room and Board fee was also proposed by university leaders, on top of the other fee increases.
For Storrs undergraduate students, the General University fee (used for many student-related programs including athletics) has a proposed increase of $96, the Student Health and Wellness (SHaW) fee has a proposed increase of $90, the Infrastructure Maintenance fee has a proposed increase of $60, the Transit fee has a proposed increase of $16 and the Technology fee has a proposed increase of $10.
For regional students, the General University fee has a proposed increase of $6, the SHaW fee has a proposed increase of $80, the Infrastructure Maintenance fee has a proposed increase of $60 and the Transit and Technology fees both have a proposed increase of $10.
For students that live on campus, housing will potentially increase by $204 and board (dining) will potentially increase by $170 if approved. Blanchard said that while the UConn Room and Board fees are still low compared to neighboring universities, an increase is not something UConn can avoid.
“As I propose this increase, I want you all to know that I too have a daughter who is a student at UConn, and I will be paying this increase fee myself as a parent. So this is not something that we can avoid, it’s just a matter of increasing costs that we face every year… cost of maintenance, cost of employees,” Blanchard said.
The Visa Compliance fee, which allows the Office of Global Affairs to support programmatic and federal visa compliance for international students will also increase by $300 under this proposal from university leaders. This is the first time in five years the fee would increase.
Ngozi Taffe, Associate Vice President for Global Affairs, spoke about this Visa Compliance fee increase.
“This is not paid by all international students. This is primarily paid by students who are F and G visas. So, it’s a really small, small subset of international students and this primarily goes to advising programming, which as you all know has increased in the past years… we have stayed consistent with the current fee rate for the past five years, being mindful to avoid any fee increase. But it comes to a time where we just have to adjust our current fees based on the increasing demand and the services that are provided to students,” Taffe said.
“we have stayed consistent with the current fee rate for the past five years, being mindful to avoid any fee increase. But it comes to a time where we just have to adjust our current fees based on the increasing demand and the services that are provided to students,”Ngozi Taffe, Associate Vice President for Global Affairs
Other non-tuition based programs such as the LLM and MBA programs would also see an increase in cost.
Fees that are relevant to graduate students, such as the General University fee and SHaW fee would also see an increase. This increase for graduate students would be in line with the undergraduate student increases, and would depend on the graduate students’ campus and if they live on campus or not.
Blanchard said the main factor that influenced their decision to recommend an increase in student fees was the contractual obligations to staff.
“We have to bargain with our unions for their compensation packages and the most recent compensation agreement called for a 4.5% increase for both FY 22 and FY 23. We have been sort of falling behind in terms of paying for those increases… we are proposing to increase fees mainly to cover these contractual increases,” Blanchard stated.
Blanchard also contributed the proposed increase to inflation. While inflation has decreased in the past few months, it still hovers around 7.7% with uncertainty on when and/or if it will return to normal levels. In the past 20 years, inflation has traditionally hovered around 2-3% barring any economic downturns.
An increase in services was also another deciding factor to propose raising student fees. Blanchard cited specifically the increased need for more mental health services, advising services and other services at UConn.
The Board of Trustees is meeting Dec. 7 to determine the students’ fees for the next academic year and will vote to approve or reject this proposal from university leaders.