Conn. may cut in-state aid grants



When Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland announces his proposed state budget in mid-February, it will contain several cuts designed to compensate for the state’s $650 million deficit. With this cut, the Connecticut Independent College Student Grant program, or CICS, may face a reduction in funding for the second year in a row.

CICS gives Connecticut residents who attend in-state independent colleges and universities small grants based on need. Last year, the program suffered a 15 percent cut, forcing Connecticut schools — including Yale — to extract funds from other sources to compensate for the loss in aid. This year, Yale may again have to find money to make up for the state cuts.

Approximately 100 Yale students currently receive CICS aid, which averages about $4,000 per person. Throughout Connecticut, approximately 5,000 students receive CICS aid.

Last year’s cuts in CICS funding were equivalent to approximately 700 grants from the 2000-01 school year, said President of the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges Judith Greiman. But the cuts reduced the amount of aid per person, not the number of grants.

Yale Director of University Financial Aid Myra Smith said the loss of funds could have an effect on Yale students in the long run, but not in the short run.

“Because we meet full need, if the funding from the CICS program is reduced, then Yale resources will make up that part of the student’s aid package,” she said. “Ultimately it affects our budget bottom line because we don’t have that money coming in. That means that over time, it could have an impact on how much money we can offer.”

Lloyd Suttle, Yale’s deputy provost for undergraduate and graduate programs, said he does not think the CICS cuts will have a major impact on Yale.

“I don’t think it’ll be large enough to ever affect our financial aid policy,” Suttle said.

Greiman said Yale is fortunate enough to have other sources of income to make up for the potential cuts in CICS funding. But most Connecticut colleges and universities are not as lucky, she said.

“I think Yale is one of the ones that tapped into other sources, which you just can’t always do,” she said. “At most colleges, their endowment income is down, so places you could have gone last year [for money] you can’t go this year.”

The state announced the CICS reductions near the beginning of the 2002-03 school year, forcing institutions to make quick changes to their budgets and financial aid packages. Some schools reduced aid to each student, while others transferred money from alternative sources, Greiman said.

Smith said Yale will keep its promise to meet all of a student’s demonstrated financial need, but that the possible decrease in state aid for the second year in a row is troubling.

“You want to be pretty careful about saying we don’t really need that money because we have oodles of our own,” Smith said. “The loss of the funds from the state means that we can’t do other things.”

Yale officials will be hosting a breakfast with legislators next week to discuss the CICS program. Other CCIC universities will be doing the same.

“Connecticut has never funded its need-based aid programs very well, but to cut a need-based aid program at exactly the time when the economy is down and families are really struggling is about the worst thing you could do,” Greiman said.

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