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Students say SUNY tuition needs reform

March 09, 2011

Gannett Op-Ed
By Julie Gondar, SUNY Student Assembly President

For students at the State University of New York and their families, a worst-case scenario is looming and becoming more likely every day: A massive spike in tuition resulting from years of neglect that finally ends in action deemed necessary to support a weakened public higher education system.

It's almost predictable: The Legislature, fearing political fallout, fails to raise tuition year after year, while cutting state support so dramatically that SUNY's mission is compromised. Then, when things get so bad, they "save" SUNY with a big tuition increase.

There is a better way that has been endorsed by the SUNY Student Assembly and by local campuses — a tuition plan that allows for fair, predictable increases annually so SUNY can grow and thrive, and students and their families can plan ahead.

SUNY students advocating for a plan that would result in any kind of tuition increase may come as a surprise to some, but not if you have paid attention to what has been happening on our campuses. In the wake of $1.1 billion in cuts over the last three years, campuses have been forced to phase out programs. Geneseo eliminated its communication disorders program, New Paltz cut its nursing program and Albany scaled back several languages. With the cuts proposed this year, SUNY will have to absorb nearly $400 million more in cuts, for a four-year total negative impact of $1.5 billion. That means even more cutbacks on campuses.

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