Photo Courtesy CCSU

State-funded Connecticut colleges and universities could be facing a five percent cut and delays in funding for construction projects.

When Gov. M. Jodi Rell proposed her budget Wednesday to the General Assembly, she said that for one year she’ll put off construction projects related to higher education. This means projects at the campuses of the University of Connecticut, the Connecticut State University system, and other state schools could be delayed. She also cut 5 percent from the operating budgets of the schools, but did not mention those cuts in her address to the legislature.

“And for one year we are putting a hold on construction at UConn and our state colleges and universities to save debt costs,” Rell said. “Over the last decade we have transformed the physical face of higher education in Connecticut and we will continue to do so.”

Sen. Edith Prague, said the 5 percent cut is “reasonable.”

“It’s not as large as we thought it was going to be,” Prague said. “It’s a tough situation but we’ll have to delay the spending of money on expansion.”

Although public colleges will have to tighten up their budgets, the governor’s proposal will keep its commitment to student financial aid.

“I have not and will not cut financial aid,” Rell said.

Economics professor at Gateway Community College, Lorraine Li, thinks keeping financial aid in the budget is great, but it’s not enough.

“With the cuts to higher education, there will be a raise in tuition to keep the same level of services,” Li said Wednesday. “Enrollment is up 5 percent, people are turning more to public education than private education.”

Li believes by decreasing funding a downward spiral will result. 

Chairwoman for the legislature’s Higher Education Committee, Rep. Roberta Willis, D-Lakeville, is overwhelmed by the governor’s proposal. Willis believes the governor is making serious cuts that will add up to be more than the stated 5 percent.

“We need to think of higher education as economic recovery on the short term and long term,” Willis said. “These proposals don’t get us there.”

English professor at Southern Connecticut State University, Cindy Stretch, believes tuition is likely to be effected especially with the reduction of the Block Grant, money given to the state by the federal government.

“Even if tuition doesn’t go up, students are going to find it harder to find the courses they need to graduate,” Stretch said. “Until you’ve lived or watched a student’s life you don’t realize the sacrifices that will be made.”

The English professor believes students will face tremendous hardships when deciding what classes to take, whether to be a part time or full time student and finding enough money to pay for courses.