December 6, 2018

CSCU underscores $11B economic impact ahead of tough budget year

HBJ PHOTO | John Stearns
HBJ PHOTO | John Stearns
Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.

Connecticut's public college and university system is slated to present the findings of its first-ever statewide economic impact study on Thursday morning.

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) President Mark E. Ojakian and economist Hannah Ruffridge of Emsi, a provider of labor market data to education institutions, will discuss the economic contributions the state's college system generates at New Haven's Gateway Community College.

Ojakian and Ruffridge are expected to discuss the $11 billion CSCU generates for Connecticut each year, and the $9.9 billion alumni contribute through annual income.

Other metrics signaling CSCU's economic impact will also be on display: 5 percent of jobs in Connecticut are supported by CSCU activities and their students; for every $1 spent, students gain $6.60 in lifetime earnings and taxpayers gain $3.80 in added tax revenue and savings.

Also, students each year earning the average CSCU certificate, associate and bachelor's degrees earn $5,900, $12,800 and $37,200 more compared to those with a high school diploma or equivalent working in the state, respectively.

The economic summit and report come before the legislative session, when state lawmakers will have to contend with a multibillion-dollar deficit, which could threaten funding the state's public college system.

In October, CSCU officials warned they may need to seek additional state funding next year to maintain the programs it currently offers students.

State funding for the system, which includes the four state universities, 12 community colleges and the online Charter Oak State College would need to grow by $41 million next year — and by another $30 million in the 2020-21 school year, just to maintain current programs. And that projection hinges on the board ordering another two-year package of tuition hikes, matching the increases imposed this school year and last.

Ojakian said consistent cuts to the system have forced officials to trim positions despite efforts to reduce operating costs. He described the request for further additional funding as addressing "extremely pressing needs that we have in the system and for our institutions."

Meantime, CSCU recently named Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget chief, Ben Barnes, its new chief financial officer.

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