June 24, 2011

Assembly Majority Fights To Keep SUNY And CUNY Affordable For Working Families

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Higher Education Committee Chair Deborah Glick announced today the passage of legislation that would allow for an annual capped tuition increase at public universities of up to $300 annually for five years and establishes a new tuition credit system for students eligible for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to provide support toward future increases. The agreement (A8519), also requires the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) to review the current TAP award levels and eligibility criteria, and make recommendations on how to improve the program to meet the future financial aid needs of students.

"This agreement balances the Assembly’s key priorities of maintaining affordability and accessibility while enhancing the quality of education at our public institutions of higher education," Silver (D-Manhattan) said earlier today. "While it is unfortunate that tuition must be increased during these difficult economic times, this predictable tuition plan provides students and families the opportunity to plan for the costs of higher education. The additional revenue will provide SUNY and CUNY with the needed resources to maintain programs, increase course offerings and hire more full-time faculty."

"I am particularly proud of our tuition credit program to preserve affordability," Glick said (D-Manhattan). "In addition, the maintenance of effort commitment from the governor ensures that state support will not be reduced – as we ask students and their families to pay more in tuition."

This agreement authorizes SUNY and CUNY Trustees to increase tuition for resident undergraduate students up to $300 annually for five years, starting with the 2011-12 academic year. This legislation also includes a maintenance of effort provision, whereby the state would be required to provide SUNY and CUNY with the same amount of operating support as the prior year, including fringe benefits, unless a fiscal emergency is declared by the governor.

To maintain accessibility for low- and middle-income students, this legislation creates a new tuition credit for resident undergraduate students that receive TAP, at both SUNY and CUNY, after tuition has increased to over $5,000. This tuition credit would provide student financial aid at the same proportion as the amount of tuition that is covered by a student’s existing TAP award. For example, students that have 100 percent of their tuition covered by TAP will now have 100 percent of any tuition increase covered by the tuition credit. The credit would be applied to a student’s tuition and which would not be due until the credit is applied.

As part of the NY-SUNY2020 Challenge Grant Program, $140 million in capital funding will be provided to SUNY university centers in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook. Each university center would be eligible to receive $20 million from the Empire State Development Corporation and $15 million each from SUNY’s construction fund reserves – by submitting a detailed, long-term academic economic proposal subject to the approval of the governor and SUNY Chancellor.

The bill also requires: