SUNY releases enrollment-based Resource Allocation Model

The State University of New York disclosed its Resource Allocation Update that calls for what Vice Chancellor for Financial Services and Chief Financial Officer for SUNY Brian Hutzley called a “fair share” distribution of $787 million in funding.

Hutzley spoke in a conference call to SUNY Student Assembly on Tuesday Nov. 27 during which he shared the reasoning and goals for the model that aims to “ensure SUNY is nimble and able to adapt and excel in the face of a changing educational and fiscal environment,” according to a PowerPoint presented during the call.

According to the model, of the $787 million, the allocations are as follows: $687 million, or 87 percent, is based on enrollment and cost; $63.5 million for research funding; $20.7 million to academic mission adjustments, of which SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and SUNY Maritime College receive for costs of their forestry and ships, respectively; and $15.6 million to geographic differentials, of which seven campuses in the New York City and Long Island, N.Y. area receive for the higher cost of living in their location.

“Basically, and simply, what it’s saying, the more students you have, probably the more money you’re going to get,” Hutzley said.

Geneseo’s Vice President for Administration and Finance Jim Milroy shared Hutzley’s Oct. 25 PowerPoint to students at the Nov. 28 Student Association meeting where he said that the enrollment-based model hurts those institutions, such as Geneseo, that “made the conscious decision not to increase enrollment.”

Milroy said that schools that “care about things like student-to-faculty ratio, class size, full-time faculty, teaching students – you’re negatively impacted by this model.”

The “cost” component of the $687 million, Milroy said, is based on the Cost of Institutional Programs, a study that analyzed the cost of instruction of each sector of the SUNY system: research university centers, such as University of Buffalo; comprehensive colleges, such as Geneseo; and technology colleges, such as SUNY Maritime.

According to Hutzley, “It costs less money to teach an English class than it does an engineering class. We factor that in.”

College Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Carol Long said that, while the model is “not irrational, it does drive to a mean. Other than the fact that you have a little more equipment in physics … I’m not sure that that’s a good principle on which to base funding models.”

The main principles of the model, Hutzley said, include the optimization of limited resources, strategic goals, acknowledgement of campus differences and predictable and useful long-term planning. Hutzley said that SUNY is in the “best position” that it has ever been for planning for its future “after 64 years of dealing with irrational tuition, irrational cuts, irrational budgeting.”

According to Hutzley, the new model allows SUNY to utilize the “stable funding” of both the rational tuition policy and the maintenance of effort provision, the latter of which prevents the state of New York from tapping into tuition funds.

“There’s not enough money to go around from the state to pay for your education,” Hutzley said, adding that in the history of SUNY, every tuition increase before rational tuition was followed by a cut in the budget “so the students were paying more and there was less money on campus.”

“We’re trying to match the students, their tuition and the state support,” Hutzley said, asserting that, with the combination of tuition and state support, “We can actually show every campus, fairly accurately, what their outlook will be” from the model.

However, under rational tuition, Milroy said, tuition will increase incrementally, and state support is “going to go away based on the fact that it’s an enrollment model, and our enrollment doesn’t grow.”

Further, Milroy said, the model does not take into account the tuition assistance program, which he said lowers the funding that SUNY schools receive from tuition.

“Not all of those dollars you’re paying are going to the benefits of enhancing your education,” Milroy said.