We need to invest in our facilities.
It’s no secret that a high-quality university depends on
having high-quality facilities. The state university consists of more than 2,600
buildings with over 93 million square feet of space. Nearly 70% of our
buildings are more than 30 years old. The need for both maintenance and new construction
is critical. Since 1998, the state has invested over $6 billion in new capital
and critical maintenance to upgrade aging facilities, but that unfortunately is
just the tip of the iceberg since our campuses have identified more than $13
billion in additional need.
We need to build on the enhancements inherent in the multi-year
capital plans you have supported over the past 10 years. By establishing a
rolling capital plan, which would allow us to add to capital program budgets
each year while maintaining at least a 5-year outlook for both planning and
funding, SUNY will be able to make steady improvements to facilities, enhancing
our ability to ensure excellence in critical academic and research efforts.
The capital investment would be approximately $500M - $550M annually.
We need to invest in affordability.
SUNY’s commitment to providing access to a quality education
can only be fulfilled if that education is affordable. We know the Legislature
is committed to keeping higher education affordable for all SUNY students, and
I assure you that it is also one of my top priorities.
At $4,350 per year for in-state tuition, with average
required fees of about $880, SUNY has the lowest average resident tuition and
required fees for 4-year public colleges and universities of all the New England
and Mid-Atlantic states. When compared to our neighboring states’ non-resident
tuition, SUNY tuition is not only the lowest, but is one half to a third of the
cost of attending a public college out of state. Any way you look at it, a
SUNY education is a tremendous value.
What makes SUNY even more affordable is the support of
financial aid. 75% of our students pay only a portion of the sticker price
because of the wide availability of financial aid to New York State students
through the Tuition Assistance Program, as well as other grants, loans and work
About a quarter of our students who receive TAP report
family incomes of less than $20,000 per year. Another 20% report family income
between $20,000 and $60,000 per year. TAP is critical to their ability to
attend college … without it they simply would not be able to afford to attend.
TAP also provides more modest assistance to students with family incomes of up
We must continue to fully fund the TAP program. The state
has to commit to maintaining financial assistance for students with the
greatest needs and link that assistance to the tuition rate to guarantee that TAP
remains an effective tool in giving low-income students access to college in
the future as it is today.
We need a rational tuition policy.
Keeping SUNY affordable is one of the two main reasons we
introduced the idea of a rational tuition policy last year. The other is
maintaining a steady stream of investments in quality at our schools. We were
pleased these issues were a focal point of the budget process for higher
education earlier this year, and we urge you to support a rational tuition
policy for SUNY as next year’s budget is crafted.
A rational tuition policy would ensure affordability,
predictability and investment in academic quality. Such a policy would institute
an incremental tuition increase for each incoming class and then lock-in the student’s
tuition rate for the length of their degree program. Each incoming class’s
tuition would increase slightly year to year according to an index and then
also be locked-in. This set tuition rate would allow students and parents to
plan college expenses without having to worry about large, unforeseen tuition
hikes while the student is enrolled in college.
It would also enable our campuses to plan on multi-year
cycles and count on the additional revenue to enhance academic quality and
performance. As the past president of three colleges and as a father of three
wonderful daughters, I can attest to both the value of being able to plan
future investments in academic enhancements, as well as budget for my children’s
With a rational tuition policy, we would have a mechanism to
continually support the high quality research, academics and business
partnerships that will define the next phase of SUNY’s growth.
We are doing everything we can to expand revenue streams. SUNY
has embarked on a $3 billion challenge to raise private funds to enhance
academic and cultural programs, provide critical student support, and advance
intellectual inquiry and research through investment in our faculty. Additionally,
our research has grown dramatically and now totals $895 million annually. Within
2 years, we expect to surpass the $1 billion mark in annual research. Every $1
million of grant money brought in by a faculty member creates an average of 29
jobs – that’s like bringing a small business to town. We are also working on
several initiatives to improve our efficiency in such areas as energy use,
teacher education and articulation agreements. The 64 SUNY campuses are the
major employers and economic drivers in their host communities.
We are trying to do our part, and we will do even more in
the coming years. We need you to join us and provide more state support.
The investment will be significant. Along with funding for
more students, more faculty and better facilities, we need a more meaningful
commitment to funding the mission of access and to enhancing academic quality.
We need assurance that state support will, at a minimum, be maintained year to
year. We need to find ways to fund increases in our fixed costs, such as
contractual agreements and energy costs, through state investment. And we need
to adopt a rational tuition policy to guarantee a steady stream of investment
in academic quality throughout the public higher education sector. In the end,
the return to the State will be enormous.
We deeply appreciate your support and leadership and look
forward to working with you on these initiatives to make a good public higher education
system great. Thank you.
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