The board of trustees of the University of Connecticut (UConn) unanimously approved a 23.3 percent increase in tuition for in-state students over the next five years.
The increase comes only two months after UConn President Tom Katsouleas announced the school’s social “commitment” to provide free four-year tuition to students with annual family incomes of $50,000 or less.
“The concern is for education to be as affordable as possible and still maintain quality,” said Katsouleas about the tuition increase, reported CT Mirror. “I think students overall don’t want quality to go down and they understand that there is inflation and other factors that drive that up and the choice is to raise tuition as modestly as we can or to cut quality.”
According to the report, tuition for UConn students will cost an additional $608 in the fall of 2020 and continue increasing over the five-year period.
The cost to attend the main UConn campus in 2020-21, including mandatory fees and room and board, will be $31,092 for in-state students and $53,760 for out-of-state students.
Katsouleas acknowledged costs in Connecticut are higher than those at the national level.
“[B]ut we’re doing this in order to reinforce the social contract and the commitment we have to providing high quality education,” he said.
In October, Katsouleas announced during his inauguration address he would be introducing free four-year tuition to families earning $50,000 or less per year.
According to the university president’s website:
Beginning with new undergraduate students for the fall 2020 term, the Connecticut Commitment promises free tuition for up to four years (eight terms) of full-time undergraduate study for entering freshmen from qualifying families with typical assets and household incomes of $50,000 or less, and free tuition for up to two years (four terms) of full-time undergraduate study for entering transfer students with typical assets and household incomes of $50,000 or less.
Katsouleas responded to why UConn will be offering free tuition for families with incomes of $50,000 or less:
The answer is threefold: first, to sharpen the message to prospective students, particularly those from first generation and low-income families, that UConn is affordable for them and to encourage them to apply. Second, to enhance affordability. Third, to inspire and energize our base of supporters to give to a cause that is transformative for their university and its students.
“We hope to raise that family income threshold as high as possible over the next five to seven years,” Katsouleas said, according to the Daily Campus.
However, as UConn seeks to offer free tuition to more lower-income students, Mika Stetson, a first-year student from New Milford, Connecticut, said she expects to have to take out higher loans to pay for the increase in her tuition.
“As a student I don’t support tuition increases because I have a significant problem with the college debt in our country,” she said, adding, “In addition to the hundreds of dollars we are forced to pay for a new recreation center no one really asked for, I think that’s a little bit wrong.”