March 24, 2010
Read this letter from Stony Brook students to SUNY Chancellor Zimpher about the hypocrisy of this bill and how it may lead to 100% tuition increases in the next 10 years in New York State.
Senate endorses SUNY setting tuitions
by Claude Solnik
The New York State Senate on Monday approved a budget that would give the State University of New York system the power to set its own tuition and the right to keep that money at the schools rather than having it sent to the general fund.
The Senate approved many elements of the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act that Gov. David Paterson had included in his budget.
The actions collectively would create a more independent SUNY system that educators said would let it raise tuition, possibly more frequently but by smaller increments, and rely on that money to fund the schools.
“This puts tuition in the hands of the SUNY board of trustees,” said Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. “It’s good because in the past the legislature has tended to not have a consistent policy. Years would go by when they didn’t raise tuition even though the costs on campus went up.”
The budget also would allow the state’s research universities, including Stony Brook, to charge a different rate than other SUNY schools, potentially leading to higher costs at those institutions.
“It reflects the fact that our infrastructure is more expensive to maintain,” Stanley said of schools with a research component. “We would be able to charge a slightly higher amount.”
Stanley said in the past that the legislature has used tuition as a way of raising funds for the state, rather than simply for the schools, resulting in hikes when the economy is most difficult.
“When the state got in a financial situation and things were toughest for students and their parents, they would raise tuition and put it in their coffers,” Stanley said.
The most recent SUNY tuition raise, a 14 percent hike, in the first year included 90 percent for the state and 10 percent for schools followed by 80 percent to the state and 20 percent to the schools in the second year.
The New York State Assembly hasn’t weighed in on the issue of the system’s right to set tuition, although there has been some resistance there out of concerns that raising tuition might minimize access. The state legislature currently sets tuition rates.
But Stanley said the system would plough back some of the increased revenue into scholarships, so tuition would remain accessible even to the most needy.
At about $5,000 a year, SUNY universities have among the lowest tuition of all schools included among the American Association of Universities.
February 10, 2010
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