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CONTACT: Mike Lisi (518) 640-6600
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January 3, 2017

UUP supports governor’s free tuition plan for CUNY, SUNY

ALBANY - The governor’s concept of free tuition at CUNY and SUNY schools has the backing of United University Professions, the nation’s largest higher education union.

“The governor’s proposal for free tuition is the kind of positive, progressive change that UUP’s members would get behind,” said UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D. “This is an initiative UUP has supported since President Obama announced his College Promise Campaign in 2015.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his Excelsior Scholarship initiative at a Jan. 3 media event with Sen. Bernie Sanders at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. Under the governor’s plan, college students accepted to a two-or four-year state or city college or university would be eligible for free tuition as long as they or their family make $125,000 or less annually. The plan, set to take effect this fall pending approval by the state Legislature, is expected to cost about $163 million per year once it is fully enacted.

“We applaud this historic step,” said Kowal. “The governor’s proposal recognizes public higher education as the gateway to the American dream, that a college education is a necessity, and that student debt is a problem that we all must solve. We look forward to working with the governor to ensure that quality public education is available to and affordable for all New Yorkers.”

Kowal said the governor’s free tuition proposal—which UUP believes must also provide necessary funding for SUNY to hire more full-time faculty, expand programs, and make up for draconian state cuts during the Great Recession—would go far in helping the governor establish himself as a viable alternative to the extremist policies embraced by the incoming Trump administration.

“The only thing we know about Donald Trump and higher education is that he agreed to pay $25 million to settle lawsuits alleging Trump scammed students enrolled at his deceptively named Trump University,” said Kowal.

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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