Cuomo Backs Higher Tuition at Top SUNY Campuses
May 03, 2011
New York Times
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday that he would support allowing the flagship campuses of the State University of New York to charge higher tuition than the rest of the system, a stance that could pit him against fellow Democrats who worry that lower-income students could be priced out of the top schools.
The governor said he would support a State University proposal to set a five-year schedule of tuition increases at all SUNY undergraduate campuses, and would allow the four research campuses — at Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook — to propose their own, higher undergraduate tuition increases, subject to legislative approval.
“There is no cookie cutter,” Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference. “Some may decide that they need to increase tuition; some may decide they don’t. We’re trying to flip the model.” Under the new model, he said, “we’re not going to tell you what to do.”
Currently, all of SUNY’s undergraduate campuses charge the same tuition for state residents, $4,970, which is significantly lower than that charged by many other state universities.
The governor’s announcement came as he unveiled one of his administration’s first major economic development programs, $140 million in grants for the SUNY research campuses for expansion, part of which, he said, would probably be paid for by the higher tuitions.
By throwing his weight behind the tuition proposals, Mr. Cuomo is thrusting himself into one of Albany’s longest-running and most contentious policy disputes. For years, SUNY’s research universities have sought to set their own tuitions and to vary tuition by campus. Currently, the systemwide tuition rate is set by the Legislature. Mr. Cuomo’s predecessor, Gov. David A. Paterson, supported a “differential tuition” plan last year, but it failed to win legislative approval.