The New Deal for CUNY is a much-needed investment for students


Joel Bautista | The Ticker

Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant

Tuition has always served as an obstacle in college students’ pursuit of excellent quality education.

Some students take a semester up to a year off due to not being able to make payments. The New Deal for CUNY bill stresses the importance of returning to the days of a tuition-free CUNY.

New York State Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assembly Member Karines Reyes allied with the CUNY Rising Alliance and the Professional Staff Congress, CUNY’s staff and faculty union, in February to introduce the New Deal for CUNY, a legislative bill that is aimed at fixing the infrastructure within the CUNY system.

PSC claims that CUNY needs $273.6 million to increase the next budget to fund the first year of the New Deal. The New Deal for CUNY calls for free tuition, repaired infrastructure and reduced staff to student ratios over the next five years.

The Rising Alliance presented the good argument of balancing the staff to student ratios since classes are largely taught by adjunct professors.

“No single factor is more important in student success and a university’s academic stature than the student/faculty ratio,” according to the New Deal for CUNY concept paper. “As a result of decades of inadequate public funding, the number of full-time faculty at CUNY has plummeted by more than 4,000 positions even as enrollment has soared. Full-time professors have been replaced by temporary, part-time instructors, adjuncts. Even tuition increases of more than 50 percent over the last ten years at both senior and community colleges have been insufficient to offset the loss of public funds.”

Currently, at CUNY there are over 12,000 adjunct instructors and only 7,500 professors who are full-time.

The New Deal for CUNY is not just some blanket legislation that is calling for free tuition. It is a detailed plan that should not be ignored. The legislation would redirect Tuition Assistance Program funding and provide more public funding for free tuition beginning in the 2022-2023 school year.

Senior colleges’ tuition is estimated at $6,930, yet New York State’s TAP payment to CUNY is only capped at $5,000 per student, leaving a $1,930 gap for students to pay out of pocket.

CUNY’s origins date back to 1847 when it was known as the “Free Academy,” with a mission to educate the children of the rich and the poor. Somehow, CUNY lost its ability to provide tuition- free education to underserved communities.

Any opposition to the New Deal for CUNY that includes arguments against the idea of free- tuition needs a refresher course in history.

Between 1847 to 1975, CUNY was completely free. Many factors detracted CUNY from its manifesto, including poor city government budgeting and New Yorkers electing local politicians who did not prioritize education as a means to economic success.

Another reason to support the New Deal for CUNY is the mental health counselors that CUNY would be able to hire under the legislation. The University has made it a mission to promote mental health, which is a serious priority among college students. The New Deal for CUNY acknowledges that.

“CUNY students, perhaps more than any other population in the country, bear stresses that make it extraordinarily difficult to stay in college, sometimes even to survive,” the bill’s proposal states.

Any bill that aims to tackle mental health struggles among college students is worth supporting.

CUNY always served as a beacon of hope for the next generation of world changers. CUNY births the writers, lawyers and teachers of tomorrow. The New Deal is a five-year journey toward success for CUNY students and the state government must pass it.