Editorial: UConn should have made tuition increase reasoning transparent
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 21:03
It’s bad enough that the cost of a college education has continued to rise, even in the midst of a recession, but it is far worse to be in a state of uncertainty as to what exactly will be charged. The Connecticut Mirror reported last week that our own university has supplemented the 25.6 percent tuition increase agreed to in December 2011, with an additional $40 tuition charge retroactive to a decrease in state funding agreed to by the Connecticut legislature last year.
When determining the tuition schedule back in 2011, it seems that a clause was written in to allow an overall 2.1 percent tuition increase in case of a cut in the state’s funding of UConn. And it was only on Feb. 28, almost two years after this plan was agreed to, that we suddenly realized that we, as students, are meant to shoulder the burden of the revenue shortfall that the state has caused UConn to experience.
We should, as students, feel some measure of outrage about this state of affairs on multiple levels.
First, state policymakers should have known that such a tuition increase clause was already in effect and that any action on their part to reduce UConn’s funds would result in a financial blow to its students. Even in a very conservative fiscal climate such as Connecticut’s, the state government has a responsibility to its flagship university to ensure that the productive and enriching work that goes on here can continue unabated.
Second, while it may be true that the parties intimately involved with the university’s budget negotiations deal with massive, almost abstract sums of money in managing its finances, it is insulting to think that they would consider $40 to be an insignificant tuition increase that would not warrant review by the Board of Trustees or by the students. To us, $40 might mean a day’s wages, earned while working at the dining hall or while delivering newspapers. No tuition increase is insignificant when so many among us struggle to pay for college without falling into to debt slavery.
Third, we should be concerned about the priorities of UConn’s financial planners if the cost of state budget cuts can be so blatantly and carelessly foisted upon the students. When $9 million has been spent on needless renovations to the McMahon Dining Hall, for instance, we students must wonder if we are being swindled.
We don’t necessarily object to UConn’s ability to raise our tuition. That may have a proper time and place. But We do object to the flippant disregard shown to us by our university and demand a higher level of accountability and transparency. This is our due as students.