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For Immediate Release
December 9, 2021


Advocates and lawmakers Join UUP President Kowal To request at least $150M in new operating aid for SUNY schools, after more than a decade of flat budgets

United University Professions (UUP), the nation’s largest higher education union, today urged state leaders to fully fund SUNY, restoring opportunity and badly needed funds after years of chronic underfunding. At an event at SUNY Buffalo State College, UUP President Fred Kowal, SUNY students, New York state legislators, and coalition members called for an allocation of at least $150 million in new, additional direct state operating aid for SUNY in the next budget cycle.

Direct state support to SUNY campuses has remained flat over the past decade, despite rising operational costs and increased operational needs. As a result, tuition and increased fees have been offloaded onto students and their families. Funding for SUNY campuses now comes nearly 2:1 through students and others, versus direct state operating support.

“The consequences of forcing students and their families to carry the burden of funding SUNY can be felt throughout our colleges and universities. With old technology, crumbling infrastructure and discontinued programs, New York’s public higher education system is in dire need of reinvestment from New York state,” said Frederick E. Kowal, UUP President. “An investment in state campuses will ensure that students, families, and SUNY staff can thrive in a post-pandemic world and will ensure SUNY is prepared to meet the developing needs of our students and communities into the future. Fully funding SUNY will restore opportunity to New York. This is the year our lawmakers must make it happen.”

Increasing operating aid for state-operated campuses would be a crucial first step to reverse the state’s decade-long disinvestment in SUNY. State Sen. Sean Ryan and Assembly members Monica Wallace, Jonathan Rivera and Bill Conrad joined Kowal in calling for funding to ease the burden on SUNY students and faculty who have been disproportionally affected by tuition increases, program deactivations, and cut student services.

“Investing in education is one of the best bets we can make as a state in terms of economic development," Ryan said. "The operating funds we provide to SUNY schools are a direct investment in their students, and by extension an important investment in local economies across New York. Funding our state universities more completely will allow them to attract more students and keep them in New York by better preparing them for good-paying local jobs. I'm proud to stand with UUP to make this push to invest in SUNY.”

“Adequately funding our SUNY campuses is vital to keeping higher education affordable, expanding opportunities, and maintaining our state’s status as a world leader in education and technology,” said Wallace, a UUP member. “We made historic investments in higher education in this past budget, but SUNY campuses are still struggling with a significant TAP gap and limited operating aid. In this upcoming session, I will advocate for a budget that gives educators and students the resources that they need to thrive.”

"As a graduate of both SUNY Fredonia and Buffalo State College, I am proud to support the SUNY system and its pleas for more direct aid from New York State. The SUNY schools – home to so much important learning, research and culture – can't keep shouldering increased expenses, many of them government-mandated, without commensurate financial support,” said Conrad. “Ultimately, those expenses have to shift to students, and we can’t allow the cost of a SUNY education to exceed the financial means of middle- and working-class families. I want anyone who is seeking the transformative power of higher learning to have ready access to it through the SUNY system, just like I did."

“The 2021-22 state budget restored $46.4 million in operating aid to SUNY and $26.2 million to CUNY — funding that can be used by SUNY and CUNY institutions to improve students’ educational experiences that include hiring professors, advisors and mental health counselors," Rivera said. "Despite this budget victory, more state aid is needed to ensure that the SUNY and CUNY systems can continue to provide a quality higher education for their student bodies. As legislators, we hope to work with state education officials to address and permanently correct the TAP Gap — the difference between SUNY tuition and what the Tuition Assistance Program covers — as more than 40 percent of SUNY students now receive TAP assistance.”

“The SUNY system is at the heart of workforce development, and SUNY professors and professional staff are the backbone that prepares our communities to meet the challenges of tomorrow,” said Susan McCartney, Director of the Buffalo State Small Business Development Center and a UUP member. “The essential work that SUNY Buffalo and all SUNY schools do to advance innovation and entrepreneurship within New York State must be properly funded so that our state can prosper for future generations.”

"The erosion of state support is translating into an erosion of student services and quality of education,” said Nicole Masaki, Regional Coordinator for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). “Students right here at Buffalo State and across the SUNY system have experienced firsthand the difficulty in getting into the classes they need to graduate, limited services such as library hours, and advisement gaps."

Earlier this month, UUP launched its NY HEALS legislative campaign in Albany, kicking off a series of events advocating for measures that will support SUNY. The NY HEALS campaign, part of UUP’s longstanding commitment to health care, education, access, leadership, and sustainability, will continue with events in Syracuse, Rochester, and Brooklyn leading up to the 2022 legislative session, highlighting UUP’s 2022 legislative priorities.

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 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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