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December 6, 2019

GOP leader slams UConn’s proposed tuition increases

Photo | Contributed State Sen. Len Fasano (R-North Haven) is calling to halt state raises amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate Republican leader Len Fasano on Thursday decried the University of Connecticut’s plan to increase tuition by $3,200 over the next five years, accusing the school of mismanaging funds.

In a statement released about two hours after UConn made public its plan to increase in-state tuition by $3,200 by 2024’s fall semester, Fasano criticized the university for raising tuition at the same time as hiring more faculty, and offering free tuition to students whose parents earn less than $50,000 annually.

“I believe making college more affordable and therefore more accessible to all students is a commendable goal. But clearly that’s not what UConn is doing,” Fasano said. “UConn relies on hundreds of millions of dollars from state taxpayers annually. Tuition has increased every year since 2013.”

UConn officials have defended the plan saying it would limit annual tuition  increases to their lowest levels in five years. 

UConn’s five-year plan calls for in-state tuition to increase by $608 in fall, 2020; $625 in fall 2021; $642 in fall 2022; $660 in fall 2023; and $679 in fall 2024, according to UConn.

In-state tuition is currently $13,798, while out-of-state tuition is $36,466.

HBJ Photo | Sean Teehan
UConn President Thomas Katsouleas addresses the university’s board of trustees at an August meeting.

The tuition hikes are smaller than previous ones, UConn officials said. Under the last multi-year tuition plan in 2015, tuition for in-state students rose by $950 for fall, 2019. UConn President Thomas Katsouleas said the university is able to raise tuition at a lower rate, largely because of funding from the state.

UConn officials will pitch the tuition plan to the school’s board of trustees financial affairs committee Dec. 9, and then to the full board Dec. 11.

The university could revise the plan if state funding drops off significantly in the future. A state block grant currently pays about 47 percent of UConn employees’ salaries, according to UConn, while the remaining 53 percent is funded through tuition, fees, grants and other sources.

UConn officials say the tuition proposal reflects the smallest possible increase necessary to protect the academic gains made over the years. Those gains have helped transform the university into one of the nation’s top 25 public institutions.

The university also says it continues to reduce costs through consolidations and operational efficiencies.

In October, Katsouleas announced tuition for in-state students whose parents earn $50,000 or less annually will receive free tuition. The so-called Connecticut Commitment plan will be available to eligible freshmen beginning fall, 2020.

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