Community College tuition to be frozen

CUNY administration has announced its plan to “hold community college tuition at its current rate for the coming fiscal year” while campaigning to ask the New York State Legislature to “extend the university’s authority for a modest, predictable tuition increase at the senior colleges,” in an article published on the CUNY Newswire website on Nov. 3. The Rational Tuition Plan is a law pushed by the CUNY Board of Trustees that was passed by the New York State Legislature in June 2011. The law raises tuition by $300 each academic year for five years at CUNY and SUNY schools. It is set to expire at the end of 2015-2016 academic year.

CUNY’s appeal for the continuation of the Rational Tuition Plan in its senior colleges will be submitted for approval from the CUNY Board of Trustees under a budget request resolution at a meeting on Monday, Nov. 23. A public hearing on the potential expansion of the plan will be held on Monday, Nov. 16.

CUNY administration states in the article that “The proposed extension of the increases at the senior colleges will help to ensure the sustainability of high quality academic programs and support services as high student demand continues. The colleges are currently facing a 3 percent cut in funding levels for staffing and non personnel services.”

The operating budget for CUNY in fiscal year 2015-2016 is $3.2 billion with 45 percent of the budget stemming from state aid, 10 percent from city support and 45 percent from tuition and other revenue, according to “An Overview of the CUNY Operating Budget,” a document handed out to University Student Senate representatives during their August 2015 retreat.

The CUNY Newswire article states that the university plans to propose a $3.4 billion budget proposal for the 2017 fiscal year, including a $50.4 million increase for mandatory costs and $106.6 million for programmatic investments.

Terrence Martell, a Baruch College faculty member of 30 years and chair of the University Faculty Senate, has publicly supported the extension of the Rational  Tuition Plan.

Martell has high hopes for the approval of the extension of the plan, stating, “It’s certainly going to be approved by CUNY at the next board of trustees meeting. And then it will become our budget, our fiscal request to the state for fiscal [year 2016-2017]. That works into the governor’s budget, which is due to be presented in January. That gives the chancellor the opportunity to make his case in Albany while the rest of us are on Christmas break,” continued Martell.

In May 2015, USS passed a resolution in unanimous support of a tuition freeze. Joseph Awadjie, chairperson of USS, stated that if the state extends the Rational Tuition Plan, then students would suffer.

Since the article was only published on the CUNY Newswire website as of Friday, Nov. 6, Awadjie plans to make a request that CUNY administrators circulate an email of the announcement to all CUNY students.

“Like all major announcements, I expect our students to receive appropriate notification. I think a mass email to all CUNY students would have been far more effective and appropriate in disseminating the announcement about the proposed tuition hikes,” said Awadjie. “It may be more predictable but it is far from rational. It would be rational for our state legislators and Gov. Cuomo to invest in the future of New York by investing in the education of our citizens,” he continued.

In the same spirit, Baruch’s Undergraduate Student Government voted in October to pass a resolution supporting the USS resolution to “Preserve the Affordability and Accessibility of Higher Education within CUNY.” Baruch USG President Annie Sourbis stated that it was expected for CUNY to support the Rational Tuition Plan, “which is why we wanted to move quickly on voting on a resolution in favor for or against the plan,” said Sourbis. Daniel Dornbaum, USG vice president of legislative affairs and Baruch USS alternate, has been advocating against the extension of the Rational Tuition Plan. “In the next month, I would like to see students come out in numbers to support USS and USG here in their efforts. I want students to convince administration that this is not a good program for the students of the university … This does not end at the Board of Trustees hearing,” said Dornbaum.

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