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CT college students, administrators ask for almost $100 million more from the state

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) and CSCU President Terrence Cheng.
Molly Ingram
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) and CSCU President Terrence Cheng.

Scores of students, faculty and admin testified into the night to Connecticut’s Appropriations Committee on Feb. 21 to ask the state for more funding in the 2025 fiscal year. The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system and the University of Connecticut were represented at the public hearing.

The budget for the upcoming fiscal year would allocate $93 million less than what was provided to UConn in the 2024 fiscal year, and $64.2 million less than the university requested. In the hearing and the Appropriations Committee meeting earlier that day, the university requested an additional $47.3 million to alleviate the budget cut.

Anne D’Alleva, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at UConn, said the proposed budget cut could put the university’s quality of education at risk.

“Our student-to-faculty ratio could go up as high as 21 to 1, which would be among the highest in the country among research public universities,” she said. “It would upset a balance that is working so well right now for our students and the state of Connecticut.”

Jonathan Heiden, the student body president for UConn’s Storrs campus, echoed concerns about the quality of his and his peers’ experience in college.

“It's now more than ever that we need an educated population. But we aren't just talking about a diploma,” Heiden said. “We're talking about high-quality affordable education that gives people the tools to deal with today's issues and tomorrow's issues.”

The CSCU system, which hosts Western, Eastern, Southern and Central Connecticut State Universities, also requested an additional $47.6 million in funding during the Appropriations Committee meeting earlier that day.

They’re slated to receive an increase in funding this year — up to $440 million in FY 2025, from $423 million in FY 2024. But with funding from the American Rescue Plan running out, total aid from the system will decrease.

This year, it was $650 million. Next year, without those ARPA funds, it’s expected to be under $520 million.

CSCU Chanelor Terrence Cheng said without more money from the state, budget cuts may be in the system’s future.

“Without long-term sustainable, reliable funding, our system will continue to be in a very dangerous, precarious position,” Cheng told the Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.

Governor Ned Lamont said he’s proud of his administration's commitment to higher education, calling it the state’s biggest investment to date. But he thinks the currently proposed funding levels are enough.

“You just can't keep funding the status quo, you also have to make some changes to stay current. When it comes to our community college systems, the numbers are down a little bit in terms of the student body, maybe we ought to be thinking about how we do more classes in the evening to get the student body up,” Lamont said on Tuesday.

The Appropriations Committee will vote on the budget in the coming weeks.

Eda Uzunlar is WSHU's Poynter Fellow for Media and Journalism.
Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.