Take a closer look at Malloy’s grant cuts

Matt Ciepielowski

Students and administrators from private colleges across Connecticut have been up in arms over Gov. Dan Malloy’s proposed cut to the Connecticut Independent College Student Grant program. CICS provides students from Connecticut money to go to in-state private schools.

Quinnipiac students and administrators gathered on Monday for a rally in support of the program at the State Capitol Building in Hartford. Those who are fighting the budget cuts to CICS are misguided for a few reasons.

The program encourages students to go into debt. Let’s take a look at the average Quinnipiac student receiving a CICS grant. The 528 Quinnipiac students that receive grants as part of the program receive an average of $4,280. Quinnipiac lists the full cost of attendance for a freshman resident as $51,760.

Even assuming that the student receives a generous aid package and outside scholarships, they are unlikely to be able to pay the entire cost themselves. This is compared to the $20,739 average cost of attendance for Southern Connecticut State University. Now I would never denigrate the value of a Quinnipiac education, but to encourage students to go to a school that costs $30,000 more by giving them a $4,000 loan doesn’t seem to encourage good financial decision-making.

Now look at this problem from the state’s perspective. Connecticut faces a budget deficit of $3.5 billion for the next fiscal year. Malloy’s proposed budget deals with the problem by consolidating several government agencies, cutting spending in some areas and raising taxes. Even with all these measures, the all-funds budget will increase by only 2.4 percent each of the next two years. The budget reduces CICS total funds by 25 percent next year, and 50 percent the year after.

Malloy plans to increase income, sales, gas, cigarette and alcohol taxes. It’s not as if the money given to CICS is being reduced for the fun of it. For years, Connecticut politicians have kicked the can down the road, passing temporary fixes. Now there is little that can be done to preserve the full, $23.4 million CICS budget.

If budget problems in Connecticut were dealt with sooner, the CICS program would not have ended up on the chopping block. Even though I disagree with significant portions of Malloy’s budget, he really deserves credit for actually taking on the issue in an honest manner, instead of passing the problem on to his successor, as is too often the case. With taxes already increasing and other areas of the budget being slashed, it only makes sense to cut funding to dubious programs like CICS.