Rational Tuition Policy Introduced

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the NYSUNY 2020 bill, in- stituting a rational tuition plan that raised tuition prices this year for SUNY schools last month.

The NYSUNY Challenge Grant Program will allow SUNY schools to have a set tuition increase of $300 each year for in-state undergraduate students over the next five years.

“By signing the NYSUNY 2020 bill, Gov. Cuomo has created a more rational and predictable environment for SUNY students and their families to plan their educational expenses,” said SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian.

The five-year rational tuition plan took effect this fall and was reflected in student’s fall 2011 invoice.

“We anticipated and estimated costs going up from $300 from 2010-2011 school year and increased our 2011-2012 academic year accordingly,” said Director of Financial Aid Daniel Sistarenik. “Students were packaged with maximum student and parent loan aid as appropriate.”

He said that although no one likes to see tuition hikes, knowing years ahead of time that tuition will go up “mod- estly” and each year will allow families to budget and plan ahead of time for college costs and financing. In past years, tuition has gone up about $600 to $900 an academic year with some of the increases occurring mid-year, said Sistarenik.

Even with what some call stable and predictable tuition hikes that NYSUNY 2020 will bring, some students are still uneasy about having to take out more loans.

“Even as a recipient of financial aid it makes me nervous every semester to see [my financial aid package],” said third- year ceramics major Alexis Tellefsen. “Because I know that after I graduate I’ll have to start paying everything back.”

A part of this legislation requires SUNYs to apply a credit against the tuition charged to students who are eligible for Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) grants. SUNY schools guarantee tuition credits or discounts to students who are eli- gible for TAP in order to maintain its affordability.

The amount of credit that students will receive will be based on the student’s TAP award and calculated by the New York State Higher Education Service Corporation.

According to Sistarenik, the best part of the five-year rational tuition plan is that SUNY schools get to keep the revenue from the tuition increase. He said the extra money could be used for scholarships, more faculty members to stabilize the budget of SUNY schools.

“The NYSUNY 2020 plan is a result of a budgetary problem,” said Sistarenik. “We want to see reasonableness and it’s getting more expensive.”

Although the NYSUNY 2020 plan promises to stabilize tuition and maintain affordability, not many students are happy about the idea of tuition being hiked every year.

“I think the price of college is way out of control in the first place,” said Tellefsen. “It’s like in order to get a good job you have to go to college and in order to go to college you have to have a good paying job to fund it.”