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SUNY Moves Ahead

June 29, 2011

Legislation will help power new economic growth in WNY

Buffalo News Editorial

Now that the long legislative session has ended, praise is due to those who helped the University at Buffalo pass legislation critical to the future of the institution and community. We will all benefit.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo gets kudos for his NYSUNY 2020 bill as a major accomplishment for academic and economic development in Western New York. UB can now move ahead on its plans to build a new $375 million medical school downtown within the next five years, thanks to the governor and lawmakers, particularly the Western New York delegation and, notably, freshman Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, who hit the ground running.

The $35 million in seed money will allow the university to relocate the medical school from the South Campus on Main Street to its logical new home at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. And, over the next five to seven years, it means 3,000 new jobs. In addition, this bill provides revenue to hire faculty and quite possibly move up the ranks of the Association of American Universities. This is a big step forward for UB and community.

This project should be seen as a top public-private collaboration, because the university would pay for the majority of the new medical school through a variety of avenues, which include annual construction funds and philanthropy.

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For SUNY and CUNY, Top Lawmakers Support Plan to Raise Tuition $300 a Year

June 23, 2011

NY Times

By WINNIE HU

For decades, leaders of the City University of New York and the State University of New York have chafed under the whims of state lawmakers who approved double-digit tuition increases in some years and none in others, leaving administrators struggling to make ends meet with little ability to plan ahead.

But in what some university officials and faculty members are hailing as a major victory, legislative leaders in Albany agreed on Tuesday to a policy that would, for the first time, set a fixed rate for tuition increases: $300 annually for the next five years. In the first year alone, the increase is expected to create an additional $50 million in revenue for CUNY, and $40 million for SUNY.

“The last thing you want in higher education is large, unexpected increases that families cannot anticipate,” said Jay Hershenson, senior vice chancellor for university relations at CUNY.

The agreement, which the full Legislature must vote on before it becomes law, would require that all of the money raised from the tuition increases go directly to the universities, according to lawmakers and their aides. In the past, some of the revenue from tuition increases has been used for other state programs. The agreement also calls for state aid to the universities to be maintained at current levels, unless the governor declares a fiscal emergency.

“Across the country, states have been cutting their university systems,” said Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick, a Democrat from Manhattan and chairwoman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. “I think this will stanch the bleeding and begin the rebuilding of what is two great university systems.”

Ms. Glick said the new policy would promote stability not only in the universities, but also in the surrounding communities. “This is investing in our human capital,” she said. “People who go to SUNY and CUNY overwhelmingly remain in the state.”

The increase would affect 136,084 CUNY undergraduates on 11 campuses, including the City College of New York and Hunter College in Manhattan, as well as 909 students taking online classes, CUNY officials said. The current tuition is $4,830 annually for full-time New York residents.

CUNY last raised tuition, by $230, in January, to help offset a nearly $300 million reduction in state aid since 2008 — a loss that brought state financing down to about $1 billion annually, according to university officials.

At SUNY, the increase would affect more than 220,000 students at 29 four-year colleges across the state, including campuses at Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Old Westbury, Purchase and Stony Brook. The current tuition is $4,970; it was last increased, by $310, in 2009.

SUNY officials have said the additional money would be used to decrease class sizes, hire more full-time faculty and maintain existing classes and programs.

Leaders at CUNY and SUNY said they would seek to help students eligible for state tuition assistance by covering all or part of the increase, based on the amount of aid each person currently receives. But some students worried that a $1,500 increase over five years would put college out of reach for many people.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Cory Provost, a recent Brooklyn College graduate who is chairman of CUNY’s Student Senate. “Families and students are in a bind because of the economy, and trying to fix the state budget by forcing students to pay more money isn’t going to fix the problem.”

But Kaitlyn Beachner, president of the SUNY Student Assembly, said the unpredictable tuition increases in past years had also been difficult for students. While some students are opposed to any increase, she said, the Student Assembly passed a resolution in 2008 calling for a rational tuition plan that would allow increases of no more than 5.5 percent per year. “We want students to know freshman year how much they would be paying for their education,” she said.

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Rational Tuition Still Needed

June 15, 2011

Daily Star Editorial

Five years ago, we asked the state Legislature to support a "rational tuition" plan for the State University of New York system.

"In 2003, SUNY tuition was hiked about 25 percent at one time. Before that, tuition was raised for 1995-96. That means the Legislature left tuition alone for eight years and then jacked it up a whopping 25 percent. That's not fair to anyone," we wrote in December 2006.

Nancy Kleniewski and Candace Vancko, the presidents of the State University College at Oneonta and the State University College of Technology at Delhi, respectively, addressed the subject more recently in a guest commentary.

"After only one increase in more than a decade, the Legislature raised tuition 14 percent in 2009," Kleniewski and Vancko wrote in March. "Students and their families never saw it coming."

Rational tuition didn't make it through the state legislature in 2003, or any year thereafter. But it's back on the table in 2011, thanks in part to legislation proposed by Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, and Assembly member Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, which would allow SUNY schools to increase tuition by up to 5.5 percent each year over five years.

This plan is competing with the governor's proposal, which would allow university centers such as those in Albany and Buffalo to raise tuition by as much as 8 percent, while holding increases to 5 percent at other campuses.

Critics have argued that both plans allow for too great a potential increase. Under Seward's plan, a student at SUNY Oneonta entering her fifth year of study (a not-uncommon practice) could find herself paying 25 percent more than she did as a freshman.

This still sounds better than having a sudden tuition hike sprung on you in the middle of your college career.

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SUNY economic impact estimated at $20 billion

June 01, 2011

Buffalo News

ALBANY -- The state university system has an economic impact on the state of at least $20 billion, according to a new report due to be released Wednesday.

The State University of New York, poised to become a player in the state's new regional-based economic development efforts, supported 173,000 jobs and that created $460 million in state and local taxes in 2008-09, the report states.

In Western New York, SUNY's economic impact totals $3.7 billion. The report noted that one in four residents of Western New York are connected to SUNY either as students, employees or alumni.

The study, obtained by The Buffalo News and characterized as the most detailed analysis of SUNY's economic impact on the state, was conducted by the University at Buffalo Regional Institute and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the University at Albany.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, who commissioned the study, will release its findings Wednesday at a news conference in Albany.

Zimpher said the study will help SUNY's goal to see the higher education system "become the economic engine for New York state's recovery."

The chancellor said the study's focus on 10 different regions "will help our campuses define their impact in a more consistent way."

"We're all poised to get ourselves organized regionally. I want to foster collaboration amongst our campuses. That's always been my theme," said Zimpher, who came to SUNY two years ago.

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