UConn board approves $1.2 billion budget

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STORRS, Conn. (AP) — The University of Connecticut's Board of Trustees on Wednesday unanimously approved an almost $1.2 billion budget for the next fiscal year.

The 2015 budget represents a 4.6 percent increase in spending over 2014 levels and includes a previously approved tuition hike of 6.5 percent.

The budget allows for the hiring of 61 new faculty members, part of a plan approved in 2011 to add almost 300 positions by 2016. School President Susan Herbst said the hiring will make classes more available so more students can graduate in four years.

The cost of attending UConn will go from $23,496 for an in-state student to $24,518. Out-of-state student costs will rise from $42,444 to $44,698.

The school says the plan also includes almost $92 million in university-funded financial aid, much of it targeting low-income students.

Herbst said 86 percent of the school's students will receive some type of financial aid.

"There is a strange thing that goes on in public discourse, where there is a focus on the sticker price of these universities, but not on what students actually pay," she said.

Here are five key details in the University of Connecticut's 2015 fiscal year budget.

REVENUE: The $1.188 billion plan gets 29.3 percent of its revenue ($348.7 million) from the state, while student tuition and fees account for 35.6 percent ($423.8 million). The rest of the money comes from sales and services provided by the school (19 percent), contracts and grants (12.4 percent), private gifts (2.8 percent) and other revenue sources.

HIRING: The school has added 190 faculty members since announcing its hiring push three years ago. The 61 positions in 2015 will include 35 in the fields of science, technology engineering and math. Salary and fringe benefits make up almost 66 percent of the budget, rising from $673 million in 2014 to $717.6 million in this budget.

TUITION HIKE: The 6.5 percent tuition hike was part of the revenue component of that four-year hiring plan. Another 6.8 percent tuition hike is planned for the 2016 fiscal year. The school says the money will reduce the university's student to teacher ratio, which had been 18 to 1 when the hikes were proposed and is now at 16 to 1. The budget anticipates an increase in enrollment of 382 students, from 22,595 undergraduates this year to 22,977 in 2015.

FINANCIAL AID: The $91.9 million in institutional financial aid is up from $85.6 million in 2014 and represents a 116 percent increase from 2008 levels. Herbst said the increase reflects new scholarships for students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields.

HEALTH CENTER: UConn's Health Center has a separate budget that also was approved Wednesday. That $947.1 million plan includes $226.9 million in state aid. Jeffrey Goeghegen, the health center's controller, said the budget cuts some previously planned capital spending to make up about $12.5 million in anticipated operating losses, largely from a change in Medicaid reimbursement. "We are only doing equipment as it breaks and as it's needed," he said.

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