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Questions and Answers - Tuition


Tuition

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Tuition

What is a differential tuition policy?

A.  A differential tuition policy would allow tuition to differ by campus and/or by program.  In essence, it allows the campuses or programs that are more expensive to run, the ability to charge tuition that covers the increased costs.  Decisions on implementing differential tuition would be kept within the framework of Board guidelines, and take into consideration access and affordability, market rates and elasticity of costs compared to competing schools.

What is a rational tuition policy?

A.  A rational tuition policy would allow for regular, minor and predictable tuition increases using HEPI as a guide.  New York State has a history of leaving tuition unchanged during economic stability then imposing large, unexpected hikes in times of crisis.  A rational tuition policy would allow students and their families to better plan for the cost of their higher education.

What is HEPI?

The Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) is an inflation index, issued annually and designed specifically to track the main cost drivers in higher education.  It is an essential planning tool for educational managers, enabling schools to project the future budget and funding increases required to maintain real purchasing power and investment.  
HEPI measures the average relative level of prices in a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by colleges and universities each year through current educational and general expenditures, excluding research.  It is compiled from data reported and published by government and economic agencies.  The eight categories cover current operational costs of colleges and universities. These include salaries for faculty, administrative employees, clerical employees, and service employees, fringe benefits, utilities, supplies and materials, and miscellaneous services.  Since fiscal year 2002, HEPI has been based on a regression formula. 

Is there a cap on differential tuition?

A.   There is no cap specified in the bill.  The bill requires the SUNY Board of Trustees to adopt tuition policy that is fair, equitable and responsible and that includes guidelines for across the board tuition adjustments, differential tuition and enrollment planning.  Fair means that we have input from constituents, transparency and sensitivity to economic conditions.  Equitable refers to the use of HEPI because it is tied to data driven by actual costs.  Responsible means the policy is predictable. In addition, the legislation mandates that SUNY consult with the recognized campus student government organization and get the recommendation of the campus College Council before any proposed tuition recommendation can be forwarded to the Chancellor. 

Doesn't the fact that there is no cap on differential tuition mean that there is really no cap on tuition at all? 

A. No, however, tuition rates must be kept within the framework of the Board guidelines, and take into consideration access and affordability, market rates and elasticity of costs compared to competing schools.

How often will the Boards of Trustees be able to adjust differential tuition levels by program?

A. While the statute allows for an annual adjustment, the Board of Trustees must review such requests within the framework of their guidelines, and take into consideration access and affordability, market rates, elasticity of costs compared to competing schools and student government and College Council input.

Can tuition adjustments be made in the middle of an academic year if the boards of trustees decided to take up such a measure?

A. While it is never the intent to raise tuition mid-year, the statute allows for the Board to make adjustments as necessary.

What legal ramifications would be imposed if the trustees decided not to adequately establish criteria to include measures such as program cost, elasticity and fairness when determining differential tuition rates?

A. It is mandated in the bill that the SUNY Board of Trustees develop a tuition policy that is fair, equitable and responsible.  A regular, public reporting process will be put in place to track tuition, enrollment and SUNY campus finances.

Will the SUNY Board be able to implement random and exorbitant tuition increases, i.e. California?

A.  The Board is required to develop a tuition policy that is fair, equitable and responsible. Fair means that we have input from constituents, transparency and sensitivity to economic conditions.  Equitable refers to the use of HEPI because it is tied to data driven by actual costs.  Responsible means the policy is predictable.  Affordability will always be a top priority when determining tuition rates.

Are there provisions in the bill that would prevent tuition for an engineering degree at one of the SUNY campuses from being $30,000 or $40,000 in 2010-11?

A. The Board is required to develop a tuition policy that is fair, equitable and responsible. Fair means that we have input from constituents, transparency and sensitivity to economic conditions.  In addition, the legislation mandates that each campus consult with the student organization and get the recommendation of the College Council before any recommendation can be forwarded to the Chancellor.  Affordability will always be a top priority when determining tuition rates.

Who gets to judge whether these measures are adequate?

A. SUNY remains under the authority of a gubernatorial appointed and Senate-confirmed Board of Trustees

What other state university systems impose tuition rates on a campus differential basis? 

A.  All states except South Dakota, Idaho and Alaska.

What are the similarities and differences between those public universities and SUNY/CUNY?  Which other public university system is the most similar to SUNY/CUNY?

A. There are none…we should be compared to Virginia, Michigan, Texas, California, and other large public systems that have financial and tuition setting autonomy.

How would the HEPI cap work in conjunction with the authority to provide tuition rates?

A.   The bill sets an annual cap for base tuition increases at 2 ½ times the five-year rolling average of the HEPI rate.  Tuition could actually decrease if a campus were to make such a recommendation under differential tuition.

Does the language provide that every year tuition for some programs at some campuses could remain flat, while others increase by 1.5 times HEPI and others increase by the full 2.5 times HEPI?

A. It allows for differential tuition rates by campus and program. The Board is required to develop a tuition policy that is fair, equitable and responsible. Fair means that we have input from constituents, transparency and sensitivity to economic conditions. 

Would tuition for non-residents be subject to this cap?

A.  No, non-resident tuition is not capped. 

Would tuition for graduate programs be subject to this cap?

A. No.

Will students that currently attend a SUNY or CUNY institution at no cost because they receive the maximum TAP award still be guaranteed that they will be able to attend such an institution at no cost? Would this be true for any degree at any institution?

A. The SUNY Board of Trustees committed itself to funding tuition covering TAP above the $5000 cap when submitting its budget proposal.  In the event the TAP ceiling changes, the SUNY Board of Trustees, as part of our tuition policy guidelines is committed to reconsidering this initial position.

How can this additional TAP financial assistance be guaranteed?

A.   SUNY campuses would use a portion of the revenues from tuition to cover these costs, as well as externally raised scholarship funds. 
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