The "rational tuition" bill before the New York State Legislature is fresh off the presses, but legislators may not have time to act on it until later today. That according to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who commented about the progress on accepting the tuition plan, and tax cap, among other matters before the legislature.
The tentative agreement between legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo would increase public college tuition by $300 a year for five years. That would increase tuition at SUNY and CUNY to about $6,470 a year after five years, from less than $5,000 a year now.
According to SUNY Fredonia President Dennis Hefner, the tuition plan most importantly for next year would ensure students have access to the classes that they need.
"Next year's budget has been cut an additional $1.7 million on top of the $10.6 million that we have been cut during the previous three years," he said. "The tuition that they're talking about will cover a little over half of next year's cut."
Although the plan calls for a near 6 percent tuition increase, Hefner said campuses would only see about one third of that amount.
"If you look at the money that they're taking off the top to cover the TAP program for low income students, only a third of the money is coming to us," he said.
If approved as presented, the tuition plan would generate about $1 million for the Fredonia campus next year, which will be applied to cover part of the $1.7 million reduction.
"The good thing is the governor said no more cuts for a while, and that when tuition goes up in the future we're going to get to have the funding," Hefner said. "Right now we're running a structural deficit, I'll be able to address the structural deficit over time. It's great for planning for us.
"It also guarantees for families the highest tuition increase that they will see is $150 per semester," he added. "That would be the largest tuition increase that they would see."
With New York City rent control and tax cap bills also on the table, SUNY campuses may have to wait until today or later to hear whether or not the bill, and which version of the bill, has been approved.
"We currently have a $420 tax on tuition. Some of the bills introduced in the legislature eliminated that tax. I do not know if that made it into the final bill," Hefner said. "That may continue or it may be phased out; I'm hoping it's being phased out."
Hefner said he has not heard if the low interest loans program proposed made it into the bill either. He believed because so much money was put into the TAP increase that there is a good chance that the low income loan is not in there.
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