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Cost of Attendance Report for 1997

Trends and Challenges

Higher education in Connecticut continues to face significant challenges on the financial front, as competition for limited state funds intensifies. While Connecticut has never ranked very high in terms of the portion of the state budget it devotes to higher education (46th in 1996), higher education’s share continues to erode1. Direct appropriations to higher education now represent under 4 percent of the state’s $10 billion budget, down from over 6.5 percent in 1989. State support in inflation-adjusted dollars has declined by 20 percent since 1989. In contrast, tuition and fee-related support has grown by more than 42 percent.

On a positive note, Connecticut did make a remarkable $1 billion commitment to the rebuilding of the decaying physical infrastructure of the University of Connecticut known as UConn 2000. Included in that plan, however, are major expansion initiatives which have significant operating budget impacts, for which the state funding commitments have yet to be realized. In addition, our Connecticut State University and Community-Technical College systems have critical infrastructure requirements which need attention.

In an environment of continued spending constraints, the state’s financial situation is not expected to improve anytime soon, particularly given the competing demands for health care, welfare, elementary and secondary education, and debt service. A related and, in some respects, more important reality is that the prospects for major enrollment growth over the next decade are not promising given projected demographic trends and current college participation rates (see Attachment A).

Yet education beyond high school is key to individual financial independence as well as the economic strength of the state. Individuals with postsecondary educations generally earn more than those without college experience, remain employed and generate more revenue for the state through state income, sales and property taxes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, individuals with a bachelor’s degree will earn an average of $600,000 more over their lifetime than high school graduates and $800,000 more than high school dropouts (based on 1992 earning levels). Those who acquire doctorates or professional degrees do even better, earning just over $2 million and $3 million, respectively.2

Chart 1: Estimates of Worklife Earnings, by Level of Education: 1992
(in thousands of dollars)

Graph of Chart 1: Estimates of Worklife Earnings, by Level of Education: 1992

We also know that in this knowledge-based economy, all individuals will have to make a commitment to life-long learning if they are to remain employed and marketable. In short, it is in the best interest of the individual and the state to encourage higher learning and ensure access to those learning opportunities. Now is the time for a renewed partnership between the individual and the state.

Table of Contents

Trends and Challenges
Who Are Our Students?
How Much Does It Cost to Go to College in Connecticut?
Can Connecticut Students Afford to Pay?
How Does Financial Aid Work?
Are Our Colleges Able to Meet Need?
Are Connecticut Public Colleges Affordable?  
Conclusions and Recommendations

End Notes  
Attachment A

Attachment B
Attachment C
Attachment D
Attachment E 

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