New York state finalizes budget affecting financial aid and facilities and planning

New York finalized the state budget at the end of March and according to an email sent by President Denise Battles on April 15, “direct tax support to state-operated campuses was accelerated by $109.5 million in one-time monies, with no impact on future funding.” 

The budget details implications for Geneseo as it will allow for expansions of the Excelsior scholarship and the critical maintenance construction funds SUNY-wide, according to Battles’s email.

“There were a couple things that came down in the budget that could impact us,” Director of Financial Aid Susan Romano said. “Excelsior scholarships were fully funded, with the maximum student adjusted gross income [going] up to $125,000 next year.” 

According to Romano, Geneseo has one of the highest amounts of Excelsior scholarship participants in the entire SUNY system.

“The Predictable Tuition Plan allows SUNY to set the tuition each year, so tuition will probably be raised a couple hundred dollars,” Romano said. “Tuition is increased at a steady rate.” 

According to Battles’s email, The Predictable Tuition Plan allows the SUNY Board of Trustees to establish a $200-per-year tuition increase for full-time undergraduates. The plan is designed to help students anticipate year-to-year changes in college costs. 

“The last and most exciting change is the DREAM Act,” Romano said. “The DREAM Act is possibly going to allow undocumented students to receive what would be the [equivalent of] a Tuition Assistance Program award if they lived on campus.” 

Legislature was approved this past January that enacted the state’s version of the DREAM Act. This will allow immigrants brought into the country illegally as children who attended high school in New York to be eligible for TAP and the Excelsior scholarship, according to The Democrat and Chronicle.

“Hopefully we will have more families that qualify [for] the Excelsior scholarship,” Romano said. “Of course, giving financial aid to undocumented students is great. We have never really had financial aid options for those students. Increasing tuition at a steady rate is also beneficial.” 

According to Battles’s email, the budget increase will also affect SUNY construction funds.

“We have a lot of deferred maintenance throughout the SUNY system, so any budget support that we can get is always welcome,” Director of Facilities Planning and Construction Michael Neiderbach said. “Specifically, on this campus, we have been trying to catch up on decades of deferred maintenance.”

The funding level for SUNY Critical Maintenance was held constant at $550 million, according to Battles’s email.

“There are many small projects that are going on as we speak, but larger ones that you may be familiar with are Sturges and Fraser and Milne Library renovations,” Neiderbach said. “Those are three very big projects that money would be targeted towards.”

According to the construction update page of Geneseo’s website, Sturges, Fraser, Milne Library and College Circle renovation projects are projected to begin when funding becomes available.

“We have a computer system that tracks the lifecycle of all of the building components that generates a condition index to judge which projects require the most attention,” Neiderbach said. “We look at all of those things in setting our priorities. Sometimes other things come up when we just need to be generally responsive to the campus.”

News editor Emma Boskovski contributed to this article.