SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher is advocating for the reinstitution of NYSUNY 2020, a five-year plan that prevents unpredictable tuition hikes and provides funding for educational advancements for the state of New York. The plan was initially passed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2011 and is currently undergoing another round of assessment before its potential reenactment later this spring.
In her op-ed piece “SUNY, State Have Made Strides on Tuition Issue,” Zimpher wrote, “Under NYSUNY 2020, SUNY remains the least expensive higher education deal in the northeast and is among the most affordable in the United States.”
Reinstating this program would ensure that SUNY remains in control of tuition, which the legislation changed when it was adopted five years ago. Before NYSUNY 2020, the state legislature controlled tuition changes, allowing for sharp and unexpected spikes, such as in the early 1990s when tuition increased by 30 percent, the highest increase to date.
The program has not only capped tuition changes at $300 a year but also allows for SUNY to hire additional faculty and to develop programs that make graduating on time feasible for all students.
“On our campus, we were able to develop a multi-tier plan where we could anticipate what the revenues coming in would look like, which is important in terms of enhancing our educational programs and investing in the infrastructure on campus,” President Denise Battles said.
Zimpher also asked for further support from the state in her article, stating that, “Flat funding year-to-year is simply not enough, especially alongside increased student investment.”
Battles agreed that funding from the state is important for the balance of tuition. She indicated that having a plan where tuition is increased by a predictable amount is far better than a year or two of flat tuition followed by a sudden spike.
“We don’t want to have the tuition to fall entirely on students or families,” she said. “Ideally, public higher education would be a shared investment where the state is providing a healthy level of funding and students and families are paying a reasonable amount for tuition.”
Geneseo currently has one of the lowest tuitions in the northeast, a pivotal aspect of its reputation. It ranked 81st on a Kiplinger’s Personal Finance list of Top 300 Best College Values of 2016.
“We’re a great value. It’s not coincidental that we end up on those lists for best in-state and out-of-state students,” Battles said. “But we are very careful stewards of our funding. We are constantly attentive to where we make investments.”
In addition to Zimpher and Battles, SUNY Student Assembly President and SUNY Trustee Thomas D. Mastro issued a statement in support of NYSUNY 2020’s renewal.
“The representatives of our 64 campuses came together last year to overwhelmingly pass a resolution supporting the renewal of NYSUNY2020,” he said. “In a vote of 59-4-1, we said loud and clear that we want fairness, equity and predictability when it comes to money we spend on our education.”
The budget negotiation process, which includes NYSUNY 2020, will take place in March.