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ASC President Responds to Governor's Proposal

ASC President Responds to Governor's Proposal

In response to NYS Gov. Andrew Cuomo's bill to implement the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program, Alfred State College President Dr. John M. Anderson issued the following statement:

"I commend Governor Cuomo for supporting a rational tuition plan,” said Anderson. “Predictability and planning are essential when families budget for a college education. The plan will support the SUNY goals of access, affordability, and completion. The Alfred State College community is grateful to Governor Cuomo for recognizing the needs of SUNY’s students; supporting a rational tuition plan allows SUNY to continue to provide high quality education at an affordable price."

NYSUNY 2020 Act includes a "Rational Tuition Plus Plan" that will enhance the academic mission of SUNY, while maintaining affordability and lead to statewide economic development.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today introduced legislation to implement the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program - a joint program between the Governor and State University of New York (SUNY) - that will incentivize bottom-up, individualized long-term economic development plans on SUNY campuses and the surrounding communities. The NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program will enhance SUNY's academic mission while maintaining affordability and placing college campuses across New York at the center of the state's regionally-based economic revitalization strategy.

The bill includes the authority for Empire State Development to issue $80 million in capital funding under the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program.

The bill authorizes all SUNY campuses to implement a rational tuition plan that gives them the ability to raise tuition up to five percent annually for five years. In addition, as a component of the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program, it allows the four University Centers in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook to implement a "Rational Plus Plan" which allows an additional three percent tuition increase, subject to the approval of the University Centers' application under NYSUNY 2020 by the Governor and SUNY Chancellor.

The increases will help build these institutions into regional economic development generators and world-class centers of research and innovation. Increases will also allow schools to add more faculty, educate additional students, increase class offerings and improve graduation rates. The plan also allows students and parents to better plan for college expenses, and places SUNY at the center of New York's economic revitalization.

In order to ensure affordability to students and families this legislation would help students and families with the cost increases. Students who are eligible for the maximum Tuition Assistance Program ("TAP") award will not be subject to a tuition increase under the five year rational tuition plan. Moreover, the SUNY Board of Trustees will be required to create a revolving loan fund to provide low interest loans to students. Finally, as a condition of approval under the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program the University Centers are required to include other financial aid plans to qualify for the "Rational Plus" program.

"The current tuition system does not serve our students, schools, or state," Governor Cuomo said. "This bill brings rationality to the SUNY tuition system, by allowing students and parents to reasonably plan for college expenses, instead of being subject to dramatic tuition increases and uncertainty. By offering $140 million in new capital funding to our state's leading universities, we are building these schools into America's leading institutions of research and innovation, while also creating jobs for New Yorkers and improving our state's economic competitiveness."

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, "Governor Cuomo is fulfilling the promise he made to New Yorkers in his State of the State address by submitting legislation that positions SUNY to be a key driver of our state's economic recovery. Furthermore, rational tuition will allow SUNY to flourish while protecting access for New Yorkers and providing students with the resources they need to complete their degrees on time. Governor Cuomo is proving himself to be a staunch advocate and supporter of public higher education."

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, "This legislation is important news for economic development in New York State. SUNY institutions play a critical in their local economies. This initiative will strengthen the connections between cutting-edge SUNY research, local business development and job creation. In addition, establishing a rational tuition policy for SUNY will enhance the universities' roles as economic drivers in their local communities and throughout the state.

SUNY Student Assembly President Kaitlyn Beachner said, "Governor Cuomo's decision to introduce legislation that creates a rational tuition plan shows his dedication to respecting the voice of SUNY students. For the past three years the SUNY Student Assembly has been asking for Albany's support to bring an end to the politicization of SUNY tuition, which places an undue burden on students and their families around the state. We applaud the Governor's effort to end the harsh tuition spikes that have been detrimental to SUNY's accessibility. By having the SUNY Board of Trustee's establish a revolving loan fund at a low interest rate and ensuring the protection of those students who fully depend on the Tuition Assistance Program, the accessibility for all students remains intact despite potential tuition increases. I look forward to working with the Governor and Legislature towards the enactment of a final tuition plan that will benefit all students in the State University of New York. I am delighted that the students of SUNY have found a new partner in Governor Andrew Cuomo.

New York State Building and Construction Trades Council President Ed Malloy said, "On behalf of New York's 220,000 unionized construction workers, the NYS Building & Construction Trades Council is excited to learn about the Governor's NYSUNY 2020 program that has the potential to create thousands of jobs – great news for our industry which is experiencing unemployment rates between 20-60 percent across the state. Over the last 18 months, the Building Trades have worked hard with SUNY over to ensure that labor protections and good-paying jobs for New Yorkers are part of this effort, and are proud to be a part of it."

Currently, the 20 year average annual SUNY tuition increase is 6.7 percent, well above that proposed in the rational tuition plan. Under the existing system, there are periods without tuition increases followed by sudden and dramatic spikes in tuition of upwards of 40 percent. Such spikes and uncertainty in tuition is detrimental to students, families, and the university system.

Provisions in the legislation include:

  • Authorizing all SUNY campuses to implement a rational tuition plan by increasing tuition five percent annually for five years
  • Authorizing University Centers to implement a rational plus tuition plan by including an additional three percent increase annually for five years conditioned on the approval of their NYSUNY 2020 applications by the Governor and SUNY Chancellor
  • Requiring that any tuition increase under the five year rational tuition does not apply to students eligible for maximum TAP award
  • Creating a State University Low Interest Revolving Loan Fund
  • Requiring conflict of interest policies for implementation of NYSUNY Challenge Grant Program
  • Authorizing the Empire State Development Corporation to issue $80 million in bond proceeds to implement NY-SUNY Challenge Grant Program

The bill is available here.

The bill memo is available here.