The University of Connecticut unveiled a proposed $678 tuition increase Monday, Oct. 30 over the course of two public forums held in Konover Auditorium at the Dodd Center for Human Rights, according to The Daily Campus. The fiscal year 2024-25 tuition increase, paired with a $384 hike in housing and fees, is the last of five tuition increases established in a plan created by university officials in 2019.
According to Executive Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Geoghegan, the $1,062 in added costs to undergraduate residential students was calculated to address inflation in the consumer price index and in food and beverages prices. Additionally, Geoghegan reassured students that the significant price hikes in housing and dining would “stay in housing and dining,” according to The Daily Campus, meaning that new revenues from fees will only be spent on their respective departments. The importance of reinvestment in facilities is amplified by an asbestos inspection at Buckley Hall that was prompted by trace presence of the carcinogenic material in one of the building’s rooms.
The Daily Campus Editorial Board is cognizant of the impacts of price increases for commodities, food and housing on individuals and large American institutions such as UConn. These changes do not happen in a vacuum; rather, they are implicit in the United States’ economic system, in which corporate profits — or “marked up” revenues in excess of the cost of inputs and labor — have been found to be heavily drivers of inflation.
Additionally, we would be remiss not to acknowledge the often thankless labor of UConn faculty and staff, especially within the realms of the non-union custodial and dining sectors. The latter may earn as little as $17.67 for a full-time position working 8.5-hour shifts feeding thousands of UConn students, according to the dining services website. Compensating the workers that make UConn function — dining and facilities staff, graduate assistants, full-time administrative workers and undergraduate employees, many of whom are vulnerable to increases in costs of living or attendance — is rightfully the university’s largest operating expense, costing over $690 million in the 2024 fiscal year, according to the Office of Budget, Planning and Institutional Research spending plan.
However, while students should be aware that the employees who house and feed them do not get paid from thin air, The Daily Campus Editorial Board also stresses that it is not students and their families who employ UConn staff — it is UConn, an ostensibly “public” institution. As the Editorial Board has previously discussed, UConn’s plateauing reliance on the state for funding has placed the onus of financing the university on students, as anticipated by the five-year plan that has raised tuition by nearly 23.3% since 2019.
According to a 2011 study by the American Educational Research Association, every $100 increase in the cost of attending university results in a 0.25% reduction in enrollment. While this may sound like an insignificant figure, accounting for last year’s residential first-year class size of 4,075 and a nearly $1,300 tuition and fee increase for the previous fiscal year, this statistic means UConn may have closed its doors to 132 students due to cost barriers. For others, this creates a greater dependency on financial aid, creating additional pressures on the university’s finances that will be felt even harder by low-income students next year.
For a university that celebrates its freshman class as “outstanding,” it has a strange way of representing them — by putting up additional obstacles to affording UConn, not to mention potentially exposing them to asbestos if they live in Buckley. Rather than the trademark blue of the beloved UConn Huskies, our university would rather see us “bleed green.”