Feburary 11, 2010
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Plan could mean higher SUNY tuition costs

Re "Is SUNY freedom just another word for shirking legislative responsibility?" Jan. 26 Perspective by Associate Editor Debra West: Your commentary on the governor's proposal to allow more autonomy for State University of New York campuses accurately raises some major concerns, some that we at
United University Professions share.

The first problem is with the proposed change in tuition.

Allowing each SUNY campus to set its own tuition rate would potentially deny access to thousands of qualified students who are looking for an affordable, quality public higher education.

The governor's proposal would allow tuition to increase up to 2.5 times the five-year rolling average of the Higher Education Price Index.

Since that average is about 3.9 percent, tuition could rise by a whopping 10 percent in the coming year.

Additionally, granting campuses this tuition-setting power would give the state an excuse to slash the amount of state support it provides to the university, making students and their families bear the lion's share of the operating costs.

The idea of giving campuses the power to lease their property ignores the fact the property belongs to the taxpayers of New York state and is legally owned by the State University of New York, not the individual campus. Note that it was the governor, who is now pushing for such authority, who rejected Purchase College's senior housing plan in 2008, a project that UUP endorsed.

UUP's top priority is to preserve the mission of SUNY to provide New Yorkers with an accessible and affordable higher education.

We think state lawmakers will find the governor's proposal is at odds with that mission.

Phillip H. Smith

President United University Professions


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