UConn is keeping mandatory fees flat for student services and activities in the 2024-25 academic year, while updating housing and dining fees to meet commodity cost increases, rental market inflation, and demand trends.
The UConn Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to adopt the FY25 fee schedule, which its financial affairs committee unanimously endorsed on Tuesday. It was also presented in detail at two in-person town hall discussions for community input on Oct. 30; a virtual session on Nov. 1; and in a meeting with student leaders on Oct. 24.
UConn’s guiding considerations when setting the fees were ensuring that increases are modest and in line with financial aid funding and projections moving forward; help to offset rising costs of food, utilities, and other necessary commodities; reflect demand for specific housing types; and are competitive with off-campus options.
The mandatory fees that cover various UConn’s student services and activities will remain flat for 2024-25.
“Always in the forefront of our mind is student affordability,” Jeffrey Geoghegan, UConn’s Executive Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer, told members of the board’s Financial Affairs Committee this week.
We wanted to make sure that the fees we were looking at were modest and in line with financial aid,” Geoghegan said. “We make sure to look at all of these issues as a holistic entity.”
The changes in housing and dining rates go into effect with the new fiscal year starting July 1, 2024, and do not affect the five-year tuition plan adopted in 2019 for fiscal years 2021-25.
The changes reflect inflationary increases that continue to put pressure on UConn’s budget, forcing it to balance the needs for additional revenue against remaining affordable for students and competitive with other schools and off-campus housing options.
Inflation has been especially challenging in food and beverage purchases, in which the U.S. Department of Agriculture determined that costs increased an average of 9% across the industry last year, UConn Dining Services Director Michael White said. The inflation on some items was almost double that amount, he added.
Even with the adjustments, UConn’s average anticipated FY25 rates – $7,850 for the most common housing option and $6,530 for the most common dining plan – are among the lowest of the schools against which it competes head-to-head for student enrollment.
The dining rates for FY25 will increase by 2.75% for each of the three categories, equaling a dollar increase between $166 and $182 depending on the meal plan selected.
In determining housing rates, the University looked both at costs that need to be covered and at demand for various kinds of rooms and units, and calibrated its rates accordingly. All new revenues will be reinvested in the capital improvement plan for UConn’s on-campus housing, Geoghegan says.
Demand is highest for apartment-style and suite-style doubles in certain complexes; single and double rooms in the Peter J. Werth Residence Hall; and some other options, with requests outpacing available beds in each category by many hundreds in a typical year.
The new housing rates reflect that demand, with rates for those kinds of housing options increasing by 5%, along with Stamford student housing rates. Lower-demand units at Storrs, which is 75% of available beds, will see lower rate increases of 2.75% for regular double, triple, and quad rooms.
Rates for the new South Campus Residence Hall, which opens for the start of the fall 2024 semester, also were set at ranges reflecting the anticipated high demand and amenities of that modern complex.
Geoghegan says the changes were closely reviewed before being proposed, and that the University increases financial aid to help students meet adjustments to their costs of attendance.
In fact, in the current fiscal year, UConn substantially boosted the amount of financial aid it allocates to students, with that total increasing from $259.2 million in FY23 to $283.1 million this year.
Of that, the institutionally funded amount that comes as a portion of tuition revenue increased from $162.5 million last year to $181.2 million this year. The rest comes from federal sources such as the Pell Grant, state programs, scholarships funded by specific departments, and scholarships from private sources such as donor endowments.
About 65% of undergraduates receive some form of gift aid they do not have to repay.
State law requires the University to set aside at least 15% of its tuition revenue for need-based aid, but UConn voluntarily exceeds that each year, and set aside 16.5% this year.
FY25 also marks the final year of UConn’s five-year tuition plan, although Wednesday’s vote on the housing and dining rates does not affect those figures.
With those changes and the housing and dining rates adjusted, the cost of attendance for in-state Storrs undergraduates who live on campus – using the most popular meal plan and in the most common housing – would increase by about 3%, or about $1,062.
For graduate students living on campus in Northwood Apartments, it would be about 3.48% higher, or about $1,320 more.
In-state students attending UConn Stamford and living in student housing there would pay about 4.3% more in FY24 than the current year, or about $1,234. Undergraduates at the other regional campuses, where UConn does not operate student housing, would pay about 3.88% more to reflect the $678 tuition increase.
More details on changes to specific fees are delineated in the agenda item and presentation made this week to trustees and their financial affairs committee. Separate tuition rates also apply for students in UConn’s medical and dental programs, social work, law, pharmacy, and a few other specialty programs.