March 28, 2012

Community College Funding Strengthens Ladder to Middle Class

Continuing the campaign for community college support he began in his remarks at the opening of the legislative session, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Higher Education Committee Chair Deborah Glick today announced the SFY 2012-13 State budget will increase state aid to SUNY and CUNY community colleges by $39.1 million (AY).

The budget measure increases aid to state eligible community college students by $150 per full-time equivalent (FTE) and will impact more than 270,000 community college students statewide. This is the first increase in community college base aid since SFY 2007-2008.

"Higher education is key to climbing the ladder to financial security. With tuition on the rise, increasing aid to community colleges keeps expenses down for both localities and students," said Speaker Silver. "Higher education is crucial to professional advancement and with this funding increase New York State is positioning its students to succeed."

For the last several years, community college enrollment has risen, with many facilities operating at capacity while state funding levels have remained flat.

"We have one of the best community college systems in the world. But it is unreasonable to expect that our SUNY and CUNY community colleges can continue to meet growing demand for services at the state's current funding levels," said Assemblymember Glick. "By reducing the financial burden, we are making higher education more accessible and helping hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers qualify for skilled jobs."

The budget agreement will increase support by $150 per FTE student to provide an additional $27.7 million (AY) to SUNY and $11.4 million (AY) to CUNY Community Colleges.

"Once again the Governor and Legislature have made the prudent decision to prioritize the State University as a catalyst for New York's revitalization," said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. "Their investment in community colleges and academic medical centers will help to build a workforce prepared for the 21st century knowledge economy. We truly appreciate the work of Governor Cuomo as well as our legislative partners - Senator LaValle and Assemblymember Glick - in their steadfast commitment to higher education."

"SUNY students are pleased that Governor Cuomo and the legislature have made efforts to address critical needs across the University. The additional per student funding at community colleges and additional state support for our academic medical centers will help to ensure more students can enter the workforce prepared to drive New York's future," said Kaitlyn Beachner, President of the SUNY Student Assembly.

"Community college faculty know firsthand the commitment and determination of our students as they work to begin their careers, build their skills, or reinvent themselves. The additional funding the Governor and Legislature have invested in community colleges will help ensure that students at any stage in life have access to a high quality, affordable education," said Tina Good, President of the Faculty Council of Community Colleges.

"The state's continued investment in our community colleges will be repaid in dividends to our economy and our communities. Since the beginning of the recession, community colleges have seen a significant increase in enrollment. The state's increased commitment in this budget will benefit each of our students and all of our counties," said Stephen Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties. "I commend Speaker Silver for recognizing that an investment in education is an important step toward attaining economic security. This funding for community colleges will make education more affordable for students and taxpayers alike."