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Higher ed officials: no more cuts

September 30, 2010

The board that oversees Rhode Island’s three institutions of higher learning votes Monday on a budget for fiscal year 2012. The plan calls for a $35.8 million increase in state funding despite repeated warnings of cuts from Governor Carcieri, who says the state’s fiscal outlook for 2012 is bleak due to the weak economy and the end of the federal stimulus program.

Higher education officials say funding cuts will put them in a difficult situation. They say they have already cut staffing and other expenses to the bone, and they don’t want to raise tuition at a time when students are already feeling the burden of significant cost increases over the last three years.

Rhode Island has reduced funding for state colleges and universities by roughly $40 million over the last four years. During the same period, tuition at the University of Rhode Island went from $7,724 to $10,476. Tuition has also gone up at Rhode Island College and at the Community College of Rhode Island.

The state budget office is predicting a $320 million dollar deficit for fiscal year 2012, which may mean lean times for all state departments, higher education included. State education officials say they are trying to send a message to lawmakers that further cuts for colleges and universities will threaten the quality of higher education in Rhode Island.

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