The Communications Office at SUNY System Administration has begun calling editorial page editors from various papers throughout the state to begin to lay the groundwork for building support for the SUNY 2009-10 Budget Request. We will complete these calls by Friday, November 21st. We urge all campus presidents to contact their local papers as well to reinforce the message. For further information on this effort, please contact Megan Galbraith, SUNY's Director of Communications, at 518-443-5311.
The following newspapers will be contacted: Albany Times Union; Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin; Buffalo News; Elmira Star-Gazette; Ithaca Journal; Kingston Daily Freeman; Middletown Times Herald-Record; Newsday; New York Times; Oneonta Daily Star; Plattsburgh Press Republican; Poughkeepsie Journal; Rochester Democrat and Chronicle; Schenectady Gazette; Syracuse Post Standard; Utica Observer-Dispatch; and (Westchester) Journal News.
SUNY System Administration staff has begun the briefings of the fiscal and higher education committee staff on the impacts of the actions of the SUNY Board of Trustees on the current fiscal year, as well as SUNY's 2009-10 Budget Request. These discussions continue the theme that all Four Pillars are necessary to properly support SUNY and to enable it to continue to serve the 439,000 students with a quality higher education. The discussions also speak directly to the tuition increase adopted by the Board, noting that the SUNY Board of Trustees anticipates all revenues from tuition will stay with the University and not be used to offset state support. Thus, the tuition increase by itself is not enough; the University needs the tuition revenue and sufficient state support, along with the administrative, procurement and land use flexibility to be able to help itself during this crisis and beyond through the use and development of its assets.
As mentioned in the previous update, please find the following resolutions that were adopted by the Board of Trustees at their meeting earlier this week which set the framework for dealing with the current and upcoming fiscal year: Tuition Amendment; Rational Tuition Policy; Management and Operational Reforms and Efficiences (MORE); and Real Property.
Below is an article which illustrates part of the road which we must navigate. A few things to note....
(1) the Board is exercising its fiduciary responsibility to secure the future of the State University and its campuses;
(2) if we are to continue to provide a quality education to our students, the Spring '09 tuition increase is necessary given our current fiscal state of affairs;
(3) the SUNY Board kept the tuition increase under the $5,000 TAP ceiling so the tuition increase is covered by TAP...thus, many of the 72,000 state-operated campus students who receive TAP will have this increase fully covered;
(4) SUNY campuses are already absorbing $210 million in reductions this fiscal year and campuses are examining all spending to find efficiencies so as not to impact educational quality, if possible;
(5) SUNY has raised $2.2 billion towards its $3 billion fundraising challenge and campuses continue their efforts to raise philanthropic gifts (use campus examples to show your success); and
(6) the University has proposed a series of land use and administrative/procurement flexibility measures that, if enacted, will enable campuses to pursue, in timely fashion, entrepreneurial efforts and public-private partnerships, as well as save on staff time and costs in administrative actions and procurements (please use local examples).
We will continue to provide information and updates as the process unfolds.
Buffalo News - Legislator questions SUNY tuition increase
By Tom Precious
NEWS ALBANY BUREAU
ALBANY -- A plan to raise tuition at state university campuses beginning as soon as this spring was running into looming opposition today from a key state legislator.
Tuition will rise by $620 a year for a State University of New York education, beginning with a $310 hike in the spring semester, under a plan approved Tuesday by the higher education system's board of trustees.
The trustees also backed an effort, tried and rejected before by the Legislature, to raise tuition every year based on a "higher education price index," which is typically above the consumer price index.
"This is our response to the financial crisis," said H. Carl McCall, a SUNY board member.
Tuition hikes, by tradition, have gone through the Legislature and governor for approval and, often, are either rejected or lowered. But this time, SUNY officials are not waiting.
SUNY officials said they have the legal authority to set tuition levels. SUNY does, however, need approval to spend whatever revenues are raised by the hike. If that approval does not come before the start of the spring semester, SUNY will go ahead with the tuition hike anyway and then seek permission to keep the revenues later.
Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, a Manhattan Democrat who chairs the Assembly's higher education committee, said she has concerns about a springtime tuition increase, giving students little time to plan for the hike, especially if the state's financial aid program, the Tuition Assistance Program, does not help cover the added costs.
"It might be viewed as too high," Glick said of the $310 immediate hike.
Moreover, she said the Legislature will again have concerns about the annual, inflation- based tuition increase plan that SUNY officials call a "rational" system for tuition policies. "What is rational?" Glick said.
Glick said any such policy has to ensure that colleges fold "core mission fees" into the cost of tuition. Colleges, frustrated by funding levels, have turned to higher fees over the years to bring in more revenues. Glick said she understands having separate fees for parking or student health centers. But she said things like a technology or library fee must be part of the overall tuition bill if SUNY is to go to a new, annual tuition increase system.
"They have to have a plan to fold core mission fees into a restructured tuition policy. That has to be part of the discussion, and I don't believe they've had that discussion," Glick said. She also worried that colleges will see less of a need to be creative about raising revenues -- such as through philanthropy or public/private partnerships -- if they are able to just count on annual tuition increases.
Under the SUNY plan, tuition will rise about 14 percent to $4,970 by the fall of 2009. Tuition is now $4,350 annually. After next fall, the inflation-based tuition policy kicks in.
SUNY officials insisted that the extra revenues stay with the college system, and not be "swept" by the Paterson administration to help erase the state's worsening deficit. SUNY Board Chairman Carl Hayden said Albany has traditionally swept revenues from tuition hikes out of SUNY's budget and into the state's general fund.
"We will do our fair share, and we have -- but we will not assent to the diversion of tuition money," he said.
Gov. David Paterson had proposed similar tuition increase levels as part of a budget-balancing plan that died Tuesday. Paterson counted on $94 million in savings in the current fiscal year for the state's general fund, and $199 million next year, because the higher tuition revenues would "offset state financial support" for SUNY.
Glick said the Paterson plan would give back to SUNY only 10 percent of revenues raised by a tuition increase.
"I certainly heard the governor's message that there be no new taxes. It's hard to escape the sense that raising tuition but leaving only 10 percent of that increase with the system is essentially a budget balancing act. And you have to look at it as a tax on higher education," she said.
Jacob Crawford, the sole student appointee on the SUNY board, told the board Tuesday he backs an annual tuition hike program if it is "modest" and predictable and does not exceed an agreed-upon index. "One hundred percent should go back to SUNY," he said. "We don't want to pay more for less in services."
Crawford, however, said he opposed an immediate tuition hike in the spring, saying there has not been enough advance notice for students.
SUNY college presidents had wanted a bigger tuition increase -- $1,000 a year.
"We haven't gone that far," McCall said of the $620 annual hike. He said any higher than that would be "a real imposition on students and families" who have already been hit by the nation's economic downturn. Moreover, he said TAP would not cover the added expenses over the $620 level.
Glick said SUNY also must look at raising tuition levels for out-of-state students. She said a number of states charge more for their in-state students than SUNY charges for out-of-state students coming to the SUNY system. "The out-of-state student should be paying a premium to come here, and we are offering it at a bargain price," said Glick, whose committee has oversight of the SUNY system.
The new SUNY tuition plan raises out-of-state tuition by $1,130 for the spring semester … annualized to $2,260 the following school year when the tuition will reach $12,870.
Besides the tuition increase moves, Henahan said SUNY is also looking to receive additional flexibility from the governor and Legislature in how much autonomy is given to individual campuses. He said, for instance, colleges want to be able to sell or lease lands to private entities; presently, that can happen only by state law.
SUNY also wants and end to pre-auditing of contracts. Presently, SUNY, like all other state agencies, must have contracts pre-approved by the state attorney general and comptroller. SUNY wants to end that practice and just have their contracts be subject to audits by the comptroller's office after they have been signed.
Henahan said SUNY is an incorporated entity with its own board of trustees. "We seek additional flexibility enjoyed by universities in other states," he said, adding that ending the pre-approval process would save time and money.
Michael C. Trunzo
Vice Chancellor for Government Relations
State University of New York
State University Plaza
Albany, NY 12246