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Report projects SUNY tuition increases over 50% in four years

Stony Brook University Union
Kenneth C. Zirkel
Wikimedia Commons
Stony Brook University Union

A report from the Fiscal Policy Institute highlights proposed tuition increases of up to 9% beginning this fall. The report said under New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s executive budget plan, tuition at SUNY university centers — Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook — could see a 52% increase in tuition costs by 2027.

Nathan Gusdorf, the institute’s executive director, notes that these increases are “uncharacteristically high.”

“The SUNY system has an operating deficit. So just the universities need another ballpark $150 million a year, and when you include the costs of some of the hospital centers it gets to around $350 million a year. And that’s just to cover current expenses,” Gusdorf said.

These cost increases would make SUNY university centers some of the most expensive public universities in the U.S. Steven Greenberg, a pollster at Siena College, said these tuition increases are deeply unpopular among lawmakers, with opposition on both sides of the aisle.

“It’s opposed by 60% of Democrats, 67% of Republicans, 71% of independent voters,” Greenberg said.

SUNY Student Assembly leaders are also against the tuition increases, instead arguing for an increase in the system’s operating budget from the state. They are advocating for a Tuition Assistance Program eligibility budget of $125,000, up from the proposed increase of $100,000 during the ongoing budget negotiations in Albany.

“We are here to ensure that SUNY students have a voice in the budget negotiations, and we will not rest until their needs are fully addressed. Our students deserve access to affordable, high-quality education, and we are committed to fighting for their rights and interests every step of the way,” said Brennan Gorman, the Assembly’s executive director of policy.

Hochul’s proposal for the rest of the 64 SUNY campuses would link tuition to the Higher Education Index or 3% increases. During visits to the campuses, SUNY Chancellor John King has said about half of students in the system attend school tuition-free through grant programs and scholarships. He said more money is needed to keep up with the university's rising operational costs.

Stony Brook University did not respond to requests for comment about its current financial plans or schedule for its tuition.

In early March, President Maurie McInnis said in a statement, “The cost of running a top-tier research center like Stony Brook has increased significantly in recent years while funding from the state has stayed flat. From the rising costs of supplies and materials to contractual salary increases for our faculty and staff, there are many contributing factors to the overall cost of providing a high-quality education.”

The proposal would also affect students at CUNY schools as early as 2024. Those schools are currently facing a hiring freeze and up to 6% budget cuts.

“The governor has expressed a real interest in improving the quality and capacity of our higher education institutions. So you’d think these proposals in the executive budget reflect both an awareness of the need to fill those operating gaps and to fulfill this investment promise. From our perspective, this is not the right fiscal strategy for filling those gaps,” Gusdorf said.

Xenia Gonikberg is a former news intern at WSHU.