Tuition Troubles

Cartoon by Julie Gunderson.

The State University of New York (SUNY) has approved its fifth-consecutive tuition increase of $300 to be implemented in the 2015-16 school year. This increase will bring in-state tuition to $6,470 a year, not including room and board, meal plans or other expenses, such as textbooks.

This idea of a rational tuition increase came to fruition in 2011 when the SUNY 2020 program was introduced, which gave each of the 64 SUNY campuses the freedom to add a set $300 to tuition bills for a total of five years in a row.

We at The New Paltz Oracle understand that a tuition raise is inevitable – but are glad that the increased increment is at a set rate. We commend SUNY for creating this plan since it eliminates the risk of a huge tuition spike occurring suddenly from one year to the next. Because it is increased by this set rate, students and parents will be able to allocate around how much will be needed without any surprises.

This five-year plan is a huge step from where SUNY used to be in terms of tuition raises – in year’s past, they would pin a huge increase on students without notice.

It is clear that the basis of a tuition raise is unavoidable. However, even though $300 may seem minor compared to the cost of other college-related expenses, it could be the difference of whether or not someone will be able to attend school. By the time the class of 2015 graduates, they will have paid an excess of $1,200 due to these yearly tuition increases since their first year at New Paltz.

In an age where more and more students use loans to pay for school, this increase simply means that they will have more to pay back once they complete their education. In terms of financial aid, students will have to request more in turn that they will have to pay back later. It is to our understanding that the financial aid system will be able to compensate for this increase and will not force students to pay an excess of what they would usually pay because of it – which is great for those who are in need of it.

Paying for college isn’t easy – and for families with multiple children to cover, the increasing expenses are going to become an even larger burden for them.

According to college officials, the money from the tuition increase will help to fund salary raises for the colleges’ union workers such as professors as well as introduce new programs and services. We hope that this extra money spent will go toward something that isn’t banked for future endeavors that will be seen only after we graduate. For those graduating in May, this is already the case. If the current are paying extra money, then they should be the ones seeing what is being done with it.

Some students may have the misconception that this extra money may be going toward ongoing or new construction on campus. We urge these students to recognize that this is not the case – all new construction receive funding through state grants.

This tuition increase will also hopefully allow some adjunct professors the chance to be hired as full time employees. If the tuition increase goes to benefit adjunct professors, we believe it is money well spent. The college should allow adjuncts to move up in their careers being that they already work here, rather than hiring professors from elsewhere.

As of now, we do not know when SUNY will implement another tuition-increase plan. But whenever they choose to do so, we hope that they will take into account both the state of the economy and the inflation rate before they do so. The five-year plan is a good idea, but it is obvious that the economy can change a lot within this short of a time period.

If they choose to do another run of the same plan, we believe they should at least wait until the last class that this current plan effects graduates. This way, they can avoid pinning extra costs on those who have already had to consecutively pay the increase for two or three years of their college careers.