The inaugural cohort of a free tuition program for low-income students on the University of Connecticut is likely to be the final, as UConn pauses the program amid COVID-19’s assault on the college’s funds.

UConn President Thomas Katsouleas, who enacted the “Connecticut Commitment” program final yr as one among his first acts because the college’s chief govt, introduced in a Wednesday morning Board of Trustees assembly plans to discontinue the program.

“Pausing the program is the most difficult and painful decision I’ve had to make since arriving here,” Katsouleas stated. “While unfortunate, I believe this is a prudent and necessary choice to make at this time.”

The Connecticut Commitment works as a “last dollar” program for students whose mother and father make lower than $50,000 per yr. These students nearly all the time obtain Pell grants and different monetary help, however the Connecticut Commitment cash fills funding gaps for students who qualify (for instance, if a professional scholar was brief $2,500 after monetary help for tuition, the program would offer them with that cash). 

Students acquired a median of $2,600 by the program in its first yr, in keeping with UConn.

While the preliminary cohort of 260 students presently enrolled within the program value about $700,000 within the first yr, the value was anticipated to develop to about $5 million per yr as extra students took benefit of it, Katsouleas stated. Pandemic-related monetary misery might additionally enlarge the variety of qualifying students and overwhelm UConn’s means to fund the program by a mixture of philanthropic and working price range funds.

“I agree that we can’t make commitments to new students if we’re not confident we can keep that promise,” Trustee Jeanine A. Gouin said. “Yet I feel very strongly that we need to continue to support those to whom promises have previously been made.”

UConn’s fundraising for the program initially appeared good, together with a $1 million reward from Stamford-based Synchrony Financial and presents from about 500 different donors earlier than the pandemic hit in mid-March.

Discontinuing the Connecticut Commitment program comes after UConn has made different cost-savings measures because it bleeds income, partly because of diminished density and exercise on campus to quell the unfold of COVID-19. In August UConn canceled its 2020 soccer season, and that was after a June choice to finish 4 different sports activities packages: girls’s rowing, males’s tennis, males’s cross nation and swimming, and diving, as the college projected a $47 million price range shortfall for the autumn semester.

– rss.cnn.com

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