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CONTACT: Mike Lisi (518) 640-6600
Lisi’s cell number: (518) 944-9528


January 9, 2015

Statement by UUP President Frederick E. Kowal on Obama’s plan for free community college tuition

“Today, a college education is no longer a choice, it’s a necessity like a high school diploma was decades ago. President Obama’s proposal for tuition-free community college would provide millions of students with the chance to earn an associate’s degree—making the possibility of earning a four-year degree more affordable and realistic.

“Ever-increasing tuition rates have served to slam the door to higher education on students, especially those from low- and middle-income families. Here in New York, more than 2.8 million people owe more than $73 billion in student debt. President Obama’s plan syncs perfectly with our proposals for a new student loan refinancing program for recent SUNY graduates and a loan forgiveness mechanism for SUNY adjuncts.

“This proposal will require an investment of public dollars from the federal government and the states. UUP recognizes that need; once again, we’re pushing for the state to increase SUNY funding to cover at least half of the university’s operating costs. Currently, students pay 63 percent of those costs through tuition and fees. That’s not a public university. It’s a private university that receives a portion of public funding.

“We strongly support the president's proposal and we look forward to doing all we can to make it a reality. This is the direction that the federal government and the states need to be going. We’re hopeful that Congress will consider the merits of the program, realize its potential and approve it.”

Click here for more information on UUP’s student loan refinancing program and its new action plan.

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 37,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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