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Editorial: UConn needs to take bigger steps to keep tuition down

On February 11, 2014

Over the past few years, UConn has been focused on keeping college affordable. A legislative report issued in January by the Program Review and Investigations Committee of the state legislature found that UConn's affordability has declined sharply over the last few years, particularly for low and middle-income students. At a total cost of $26,122 per year, UConn is the tenth most expensive flagship university in the country.
The most significant finding of the report was the increase in tuition paid by the lowest income students. The amount of tuition lower income students pay as a proportion of their family's income increased 13 percent between 2008 and 2012. The share of family income paid by middle and high-income students rose between 2 and 6 percent.
The university was quick to point out that grants and scholarships have been increasing to meet rising tuition costs - 75 percent since 2005 - but from this report it's clear that it's not enough. UConn gave out $73.9 million in aid money last year, but the cost of tuition went up more than five percent.
UConn is not solely to blame for the rising cost of college. The funding they receive from the state has dropped from half of the total budget to one third since 1996. Federal grants and scholarships are harder to come by, and the recession has reduced income for many families.
That being said, UConn is a public university, and its first goal should be to provide quality, accessible education for all of its students. It's great to see our school improving itself, but it can't be doing so at the exclusion of lower income students. When UConn takes a big step - like the four-year hiring plan passed in 2011 (which included a 20-percent tuition increase over those four years) - they have to keep in mind how students will be affected. The payment expectations of lower income students have increased more than any other income group, at a time when they're most likely to need tuition aid.
While it's great that the school is improving itself, UConn shouldn't be trying to compete with expensive private colleges. The focus has to remain on what's best for all of the university's students.

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