Do you feel a chill? Recently, the trustees of the Connecticut State University System decided not to raise tuition and fees. This decision marks the first time in a decade that tuition and fees have not increased within the four-school system.
“It would be awesome. It is kind of expensive enough now,” says Sara Perran, a student at Central Connecticut State University.
Connecticut is not alone. In Rhode Island, Judge Frank Caprio, chair of the Board of Governors for Higher Education, recommended a freeze on tuitions at the three state institutions for the academic year beginning in fall 2011. Maine’s seven community colleges have frozen tuition for six of the last 11 years.
New England has a notorious history of raising student charges to offset relatively low state funding. Yet, the CSUS decision reflects a different sentiment. As chair Karl J. Krapek said in a statement to CTnow.com, “we recognize the economic challenges facing many of our students and their families and will remain steadfast in our commitment to providing affordable, accessible, high-quality education.”
However, keeping tuition costs down for students has consequences for faculty and staff. Case and point: CSUS plans a salary freeze for close to 200 nonunion workers as well as layoffs for both maintenance workers and faculty in an attempt to replenish monies no longer provided through increases in tuition.
While the CSUS has made its commitment to affordability and access clear in its vote to not increase fees during the current recession, theory and practice may be hard to reconcile. In a state running a deficit of more than $3 billion, the tuition freeze could be reconsidered at a moment’s notice. As Krapek noted to the CTmirror.com, “If we get a brutal cut in the state budget … we may have to revisit this, but for now I think it’s the right thing to do.” Clearly, students like Sara Perran agree.