The State University of New York Board of Trustees Finance Committee unanimously adopted a five-year tuition plan, and the resolution will be taken up at a full meeting of the board this afternoon. The meeting will be webcast. Under the plan, the current tuition of $4,970 a year would increase by small amounts over the five years.
SUNY sets its own tuition, but it has to be approved by the Legislature during the annual state budget process, which lawmakers are in the middle of now. The tuition proposal — called “rational tuition” by SUNY officials — is controversial among legislators because some believe it would price middle-class students out of the state university system. The start of the new fiscal year is April 1.
The SUNY Student Assembly and Faculty Senate are both in favor of the annual hikes, with the rationale that it makes tuition more predictable and that SUNY needs to generate more revenue for campuses after facing annual cuts in state operating aid in the past few years. Often tuition is stable for many years and then spikes during difficult fiscal times. With the most recent tuition hike, which took place under former Gov. David Paterson’s administration, the state took a portion of the increase for the General Fund.
Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Kenneth LaValle, R-Suffolk County, said yesterday that the Senate wants to work with the Assembly to “negotiate a five-year rational tuition policy for the system.” Assembly Higher Education Committee Chairwoman Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan, said she would have to hear what SUNY officials consider “is a rational and reasonable expenditure by working middle-class families across the state.” She expressed concern about the Tuition Assistance Program, which currently covers tuition for the neediest students, keeping up with the higher tuition rates.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget does not include a tuition increase for SUNY. The Senate and Assembly’s one-house budget resolutions do not either.