SUNY brass: $73M one-shot would freeze tuition for one year



The State University of New York Board of Trustees is asking the governor and Legislature to provide SUNY with an additional $73 million in direct state investment.

The Board says with such funding, which has been proposed by both houses of the Legislature, they can freeze resident undergraduate tuition for one year, continue to protect students from unpredictable changes in tuition and maintain high standards for the largest comprehensive higher education system in the United States.

SUNY is also calling for an increase in the Base Operating Aid for SUNY’s 30 community colleges, starting with a $285 per student increase for the 2016-2017 academic year. The SUNY Board of Trustees say this increase would provide for additional state investment in these colleges approximately equal to the average increase in costs beyond their control, such as employee benefits.

“Our campuses are moving the economic dial across the state of New York,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, referring to SUNY’s role in spurring local economic development and contributing to regional revitalization near campuses.

Zimpher and the SUNY Board of Trustees say now is a critical time for access to quality, affordable higher education, because within just a few years, 70 percent of jobs in New York state will require a college degree or credential.  Currently, only 45 percent of New Yorkers have a college degree.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for continuing the NYSUNY 2020 program in his budget proposal, legislation that Zimpher says is crucial to the SUNY system.

Before the NYSUNY 2020 program, tuition setting power was in the hands of the state Legislature, not SUNY.  Some years, there were no changes in tuition, but from 1991-1992 there was a 30 percent increase in a single year. Now, because of the program, SUNY has control over changes in tuition and has set a $300 cap on how much it can raise tuition in one year.

“We cannot afford to go backward on the critical reforms of NYSUNY 2020, which include a lot more than predictable tuition rates,” said SUNY Board Chairman Carl McCall. “NYSUNY 2020 has been an economic development game changer for New York state, resulting in large-scale, high-impact projects involving our campuses over the last five years.  It has held New York’s public universities harmless from budget cuts.  It has kept tuition at the 2010 rate for our neediest students through the Tuition Assistance Program.”