Tuition Hikes And Program Cuts As Colleges Cope

By Staff

February 3, 2009

College and university officials throughout the country are anticipating tuition increases and suspended programs as schools struggle to adapt budgets to the current economic climate.

The Hartford Courant reports that for the first time in the University of Connecticut's history, the school will require students to shoulder more of the cost of their education than the state. The state currently covers about 35 percent of the school's budget, tuition and fees cover about 32 percent, and federal grants and other sources pay for the rest. Yet that is about to change, as university administrators are anticipating as much as a 10 percent cutback in state aid, which will very likely necessitate an increase in tuition.

"It'll be a historic turning point for the state and university because the university would be generating more revenue from tuition and fees than from state support," noted UConn President Michael Hogan.

In South Carolina, colleges and universities are facing much the same situation. The State, a South Carolina publication, reports that schools such as Clemson University are expecting an 8 percent drop in state funding this year and are being forced to place new projects on hold or abandon them completely. But Clemson as well as the University of South Carolina insist they will do their best to hold down tuition rates, which are already higher in South Carolina than in other Southern states. Last year, no other state topped South Carolina's 17.7 percent cutback on higher education, and college officials are urging legislators to go easier on them this year.

In a related sign of the dire economic times, Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, recently announced plans to close its Rose Art Museum and auction off the 6,000 works in its collection. Founded in 1961, the museum included art by masters such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, and the decision to close its doors drew harsh criticism from the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries.

Yet Brandeis officials insist that given the financial crisis, they had no choice. The Boston Globe notes that the school is discussing other proposals to reduce its budget deficit, which is reportedly as high as $10 million. These plans include reducing the size of the faculty by 10 percent, increasing enrollment by 12 percent to boost tuition revenue, and eliminating individual academic programs in favor of larger, interdisciplinary divisions. Officials are also considering adding a business program and requiring students to take one summer semester.

The University of Connecticut is contemplating similar cutbacks. Ideas being considered include suspending faculty sabbaticals, replacing printed materials with online publications, delaying replacement of cars, buses, and computers, and eliminating a plan to hire 35 more professionals a year to improve the student/teacher ratio.

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