Courtesy of the Board of Regents

HARTFORD, CT — Students at Connecticut’s four state universities are going to have to dig a little deeper to pay for their education next year.

The Finance Committee for the Board of Regents is proposing a 5-percent tuition increase for the next school year.

The Board of Regents is expected to vote on the tuition hike March 28. Tuition rates for Connecticut’s community colleges are still under discussion.

The 5-percent tuition hike translates to an average of $479 more for in-state commuting students and $861 more for residential and out-of-state students for the next school year.

Assorted other fee increases, such as for housing and food, will further increase overall costs.

As of the fall of 2018 there were just under 33,000 students enrolled in the system and the latest figures show that around 6.4 percent are from out-of-state and as such pay higher rates than students who are state residents.

An analysis prepared by officials said that in an effort “to maintain affordability for out-of-state students, the proposal also includes reduction of the university fee for out-of-state students by 5 percent. Furthermore, the cap on housing costs at 2.5 percent will benefit some out-of-state students as well, helping to address the competitiveness of CSU tuition and fees for students from other states.”

However, the 5 percent tuition increase comes on the heels of a 4 percent increase this year.

The Finance Committee is requesting a 3 percent tuition hike for Charter Oak State college, the online college.

Ben Barnes, who is currently the chief financial officer for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities and was head of the Office of Policy and Management for eights years, didn’t paint a rosy financial picture.

He told the committee that Connecticut is looking at shortfalls of $20 million in both the community college and university systems if the state appropriation remains flat.

“A strategy to address this issue needs to be developed to offset these shortfalls with tuition, spending reductions, and use of reserves,” Barnes said.

In an analysis of the budget reviewed by the committee, it said in part: “While the budget shortfall across the four universities may be as high as $20 million even after the impact of these proposed tuition and fee changes, there remains considerable uncertainty regarding the amount of reserves that must be dedicated to fiscal year 2020 operations. This number is likely to be reduced as campuses find additional savings, or the legislature identifies additional resources.”

The governor’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 includes $145.2 million for the universities, and $3.1 million for Charter Oak College.

CCSU President Mark Ojakian said he plans to have “continued conversations” with Gov. Ned Lamont and the legislature about the system’s funding before the next Board of Regents meeting.

The committee held off, for now, on suggesting a rate increase for the state’s community colleges.