Possible Discount For Commuter Students Addressed

As a part of the Academic Senate’s list of goals, one senator is attempting to get E-Z Pass discounts for SUNY New Paltz commuter students.

The E-Z Pass discount will consist of, at most, a  $40 refund per semester for all commuter students who meet the criteria and possess a qualifying GPA. That is still to be determined, Sen. Josh Simpson said.

Although Simpson is not a commuter, he said this would be a great way to give back to students. Simpson said other colleges in the area currently have similar discounts in place and it is feasible for New Paltz to take on a similar program.

“My friend transferred here from Columbia Greene Community College and they have had a program for over 10 years now that gives students who cross the Rip Van Winkle Bridge a partial refund of their money,” Simpson said. “I believe that it is possible for [SUNY New Paltz] to implement because we have money that could be better allocated to support our students.”

According to cgcc.edu, Columbia Greene students are encouraged to enroll in the E-Z Pass New York State Bridge Authority Discount Plan to receive the best rate on tolls. After this, they can complete a Bridge Toll Reimbursement form and qualifying students can receive a reimbursement of a maximum $2.50 per week or $37.50 for a normal 15-week semester.

Simpson said he wants New Paltz to adopt this system so commuters can be reimbursed. However, the plan is not without its restrictions and Simpson has a specific idea of who the recipients should be.

“It should be for students who live outside of New Paltz who need to travel on the thruway or need to cross the Mid-Hudson Bridge to get to class,” Simpson said.

Some commuter students feel an E-Z Pass discount would be a great relief,  fourth-year education major Jason Weiss said. He said in this economy, and with high gas prices, students could always use discounts.

“As a commuter we spend so much money on gas and vehicle maintenance that every penny matters — especially when you drive over the bridge every day,” Weiss said. “It adds up to be almost $300 in just tolls over the Mid Hudson — let alone any other thruway or toll.”

One campus resident, Yan Li, a fourth-year biology major, said she agrees that this discount is a good idea even though she will not be receiving the benefits.

“It’s awesome and we definitely need it,” Li said. “Why would you put burdens on students that already have to pay so much for school and tuition?”

Simpson is the only student involved at this moment and he reports his progress to the senate weekly.  He said if everything goes as planned, he hopes to see this
discount in place by next semester.