Trying to make up for less than requested state aid and increasing costs, the University of Connecticut’s chief financial officer will recommend a roughly 2.5 percent increase in tuition and fees to the board of trustees Wednesday, March 23.
Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Richard Gray told an audience at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center he is also proposing other moves to make up for a projected $45.7 million deficit next fiscal year.
“I am absolutely committed to presenting a balanced budget,” he said.
Gray’s recommended tuition and fee rates for the next school year, would result in a 2.47 percent increase in total costs for in-state students and 2.54 percent for out-of- state students.
He will present those recommendations to trustees during the board’s meeting Wednesday, March 23, which starts at 9 a.m. in the Rome Ballroom.
No one in the audience Friday (March 18) voiced any support or objections to Gray’s proposal, but he encouraged people to share their thoughts with trustees.
Gray’s recommendation would set in-state tuition at $ 8,256, an increase of 2.38 percent, or $192, for next year, while all costs, including room, board and other fees, would be a combined $21,486, an increase of $518.
Out-of- state students, meanwhile, would pay a combined $38,382 in tuition and all fees, an increase of $958.
Trustees, who approved total increases of 5.96 percent for instate students and 5.77 percent for out-of-state students last year, tabled a vote last month to wait for Gray to evaluate Malloy’s budget and make a proposal.
Gray said he has already spoken with some trustees about his recommendation and received a “varying degree (of comments).”
But Gray said the recommended increase would generate a projected $9 million in additional revenue to help close the anticipated deficit. The largest portion of that deficit can be traced to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed budget, which would give UConn roughly $35 million less than requested each of the next two years.
Gray said Malloy’s budget would allocate $326.3 million for the 2011-12 fiscal year and $319.7 million the following year, including money for fringe benefits.
Since Malloy presented his proposal last month, Gray said he and other UConn officials have “been talking about a range of options” to balance the budget.
He also pointed to “the continued weakness of the economy and the well documented problems” with the state’s budget and said he also wanted solutions that would help budgets in the future.
He said he wanted to make “enough permanent reductions” to balance the 2012-13 budget, as well, but he acknowledged that implementing these changes is “not a lot of fun along the way.”
Gray said he plans to look at how UConn supports things not related to its core programs to see how the university could recover some costs or become more efficient, for example. He also said he will review all contract and personal service agreements to try and find some potential reductions, as well as look to see if certain aspects of the university can become more self-sufficient.
Gray did say maintaining faculty will be a priority, but he plans to examine non-faculty staffing to see if UConn can experience any savings through attrition.
He also said he would look for savings in upgrades at UConn, which he said are “nice to have, but maybe we can’t afford it.”
That included new building projects and purchases for new equipment, although he said he did not want to reduce the maintenance of existing buildings and equipment.
Gray outlined other potential reductions in expenditures, but also said he will look for ways to increase the revenue UConn generates.
He said he will look at possible increases to fees and program expenses not related to tuition, room and board as well as the 2.5 percent increase to tuition and fees.
Gray said he was “trying to be sensitive” to the needs of potential students, but also wanted to arrive at an “appropriate decision” that make things too difficult for the university.
He said he wanted to keep UConn affordable, but also kept academic and research initiatives at UConn a “major priority.”
“I do not necessarily think I’m hamstringing the university,” he said, adding he would not make a recommendation if he did not ” believe” UConn could handle the outcome.
He also said he will work with union employees, but he has “totally discounted” any savings UConn might see at this time because no agreements have been reached.
Gray added any concessions saving the university money will be “all well and good” and he would readjust his proposal if necessary.