Assembly’s Budget Helps Keep College Affordable for New Yorkers

March 12, 2008
Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D-Flatbush) announced that the Assembly’s proposed budget invests in higher education to keep a college education within reach for all New York families.

“Over the years, the cost of higher education has become less affordable for our families,” said Jacobs. “We believe that every New Yorker should have an opportunity to receive a higher education.”

The Assembly’s budget proposal includes no tuition hikes at SUNY or CUNY and includes $43 million in operating aid to SUNY and $28.4 million to CUNY. This funding will help the schools with initiatives like increasing faculty to support growing enrollment and expanding their nursing programs.

“New York State needs to find a long-term solution to address the nursing shortage we’re facing,” Jacobs said. “In an effort to address this issue, the Assembly’s budget includes an additional $1 million for nursing programs at SUNY and CUNY.”

In addition, the executive budget reduced funding for base operating aid by $50 per full-time equivalent student at New York’s community colleges. That translates into an $8.1 million cut for SUNY’s 30 community colleges and a $3 million cut for the six CUNY community colleges. The Assembly rejects that cut, restoring the $50 per FTE and adds $90 per FTE for a total increase of $140 per full time equivalent.

“In New York’s public university system, thousands of students have gained the education needed to be competitive in the global community,” Jacobs said. “Our top priority is to ensure that our already-struggling students aren’t forced to shoulder the burden of these tough economic times.”

Funding opportunity programs

In addition, the Assembly rejects the executive budget cuts to college opportunity programs and funds them at the following levels to ensure New Yorkers have the chance at earning a college degree:

  • $20.4 million in EOP funding
  • $25.2 million in HEOP funding
  • $17 million in funding for SEEK
  • $12.6 million for Liberty Partnership
  • $881,000 for College Discovery

The Assembly also included a proposal that would allow students who were removed from their homes due to neglect or abuse, entered foster care, or became a ward of the court to be placed on the dependent TAP schedule to increase the funds they currently receive and take into account their exceptional family circumstances.

A capital plan for major higher education improvements

To ensure New York’s colleges and universities have the facilities needed to compete, the Assembly’s budget funds a 5-year critical maintenance plan at SUNY for $2.7 billion and CUNY for $1.4 billion .

“Under this measure, every campus would receive much-needed upgrades to deteriorating campus facilities resulting from years of neglect,” said Jacobs.

The Assembly budget will also contain a strategic 5-year capital plan for major initiatives at SUNY and CUNY. To encourage green building initiatives, the Assembly requires SUNY and CUNY to focus on capital projects that support improvements in environmental protection, energy and resource management, solar energy and conservation.

Diversity initiatives and assistance for veterans

Assistant Speaker Jacobs also noted the Assembly’s budget also includes $8.4 million in funding for various diversity initiatives at SUNY. This funding includes:

  • $2.5 million to expand the EOP program
  • $1 million for a new program to provide EOP to students who are in good academic standing but face other challenges that could keep a college education out of reach
  • $4.7 million in matching funds to diversify the faculty
  • $200,000 for the Office of Diversity and Educational Equity

The executive budget provides veterans returning from combat with a tuition grant – up to the value of in-state SUNY undergraduate tuition – which can be used at any public or private college or university in the state. The Assembly’s budget funds this initiative at $2 million and expands the scope of the program to cover more combat veterans.

“Our proposal is a solid plan for higher education that invests in our public universities and colleges while working to ensure they remain affordable and accessible for all,” concluded Jacobs.