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UConn Advance

Emmert testifies in favor of more aid
Marach 7, 1997

The University alone cannot meet the financial needs of students, and the state must help ensure that students have access to higher education, Mark Emmert told legislators this week.

Emmert, chancellor and provost for University affairs, testified Monday before the General Assembly's Education Committee and Wednesday before the Appropriations Committee in support of initiatives that relate to student financial aid and the extension of the matching grant program that began under UConn 2000.

Here's a rundown on the bills and what Emmert said:

  • House Bill 6800, An Act Concerning State Financial Assistance for Higher Education. This measure would support financial aid by fully funding the Connecticut Aid to Connecticut Public College Students Grant Program and the Connecticut Independent Colleges Student Grant Program. It would allow institutions to award student grants based both on financial need and academic merit. Currently grants can only be based on financial need.

In 1990-91, student financial aid was comprised of an almost equal balance of scholarships/grants and loans. In 1994-95, loans exceeded grants by a two-to-one ratio, Emmert said. The University has attempted to make up for the shortfall with an estimated 1996-97 commitment of $16.1 million in financial aid and $13 million in tuition waivers for graduate assistants and veterans, seniors and National Guard members. The University already devotes 21 percent to tuition revenue for financial aid.

"The demand on University funds to support financial aid and waiver costs will only continue to grow," Emmert said. "Given declining state support and the limits of reasonable tuition levels, the University cannot alone meet the financial needs of our students."

Approving the bill, he added, "would help us keep more of the state's best and brightest here in Connecticut by offering them financial assistance."

  • House Bill 6801, An Act Continuing Public-Private Partnerships for the Support of the University of Connecticut. Under UConn 2000, the state is matching private donations up to $20 million. This has led to a 62 percent increase in annual private financial support to UConn. Under this bill, the program would be taken a step further - a $15 million state match in each of the two years of the state budget. Emmert said that would encourage additional private giving to help the University attract key faculty members, attract and retain top students, supplement academic programs and enhance UConn's overall quality.

"Extension of the matching grant program will enable us to continue the momentum already demonstrated and be a vitally important component of the University's first major capital campaign currently being planned," Emmert told committee members.

  • Senate Bill 1108, An Act Concerning the Board of Governors of Higher Education and Tuition at Public Institutions of Higher Education. Emmert spoke out in opposition to a proposal that would give the Board of Governors approval authority over tuition and fee increases. UConn's Board of Trustees has set tuition and fees since 1992, and since 1994 has kept tuition at or below the inflation rate. Extending matching grant funding and providing appropriate and stable state funding would be more effective in controlling rising tuition costs, Emmert said.
  • Senate Bill 385, An Act Concerning Oversight of Higher Education Administrative Costs. This bill would make sure administrative costs at UConn and other public institutions are at a reasonable level. "Any legislation must protect against unintended side effects, particularly for an institution such as UConn where the current year state appropriation of $134.6 million represents only a portion of our $429.7 million total operating budget," Emmert said. He said such functions at UConn as bus service and computer technology - deemed administrative by the state Office of Fiscal Analysis - may be in jeopardy given the language of the bill.

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