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Governor Cuomo Introduces Bill to Implement The NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program

NYSUNY 2020 Act includes a "Rational Tuition Plus Plan" that will enhance the academic mission of SUNY, while maintaining affordability and lead to statewide economic development

Albany, N.Y. (June 9, 2011) -- Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today introduced legislation to implement the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program - a joint program between the Governor and State University of New York (SUNY) - that will incentivize bottom-up, individualized long-term economic development plans on SUNY campuses and the surrounding communities. The NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program will enhance SUNY's academic mission while maintaining affordability and placing college campuses across New York at the center of the state's regionally-based economic revitalization strategy.

The bill includes the authority for Empire State Development to issue $80 million in capital funding under the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program.

The bill authorizes all SUNY campuses to implement a rational tuition plan that gives them the ability to raise tuition up to five percent annually for five years. In addition, as a component of the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program, it allows the four University Centers in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook to implement a "Rational Plus Plan" which allows an additional three percent tuition increase, subject to the approval of the University Centers' application under NYSUNY 2020 by the Governor and SUNY Chancellor.

The increases will help build these institutions into regional economic development generators and world-class centers of research and innovation. Increases will also allow schools to add more faculty, educate additional students, increase class offerings and improve graduation rates. The plan also allows students and parents to better plan for college expenses, and places SUNY at the center of New York's economic revitalization.

In order to ensure affordability to students and families this legislation would help students and families with the cost increases. Students who are eligible for the maximum Tuition Assistance Program ("TAP") award will not be subject to a tuition increase under the five year rational tuition plan. Moreover, the SUNY Board of Trustees will be required to create a revolving loan fund to provide low interest loans to students. Finally, as a condition of approval under the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program the University Centers are required to include other financial aid plans to qualify for the "Rational Plus" program.

"The current tuition system does not serve our students, schools, or state," Governor Cuomo said. "This bill brings rationality to the SUNY tuition system, by allowing students and parents to reasonably plan for college expenses, instead of being subject to dramatic tuition increases and uncertainty. By offering $140 million in new capital funding to our state's leading universities, we are building these schools into America's leading institutions of research and innovation, while also creating jobs for New Yorkers and improving our state's economic competitiveness."

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, "Governor Cuomo is fulfilling the promise he made to New Yorkers in his State of the State address by submitting legislation that positions SUNY to be a key driver of our state's economic recovery. Furthermore, rational tuition will allow SUNY to flourish while protecting access for New Yorkers and providing students with the resources they need to complete their degrees on time. Governor Cuomo is proving himself to be a staunch advocate and supporter of public higher education."

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, "This legislation is important news for economic development in New York State. SUNY institutions play a critical in their local economies. This initiative will strengthen the connections between cutting-edge SUNY research, local business development and job creation. In addition, establishing a rational tuition policy for SUNY will enhance the universities' roles as economic drivers in their local communities and throughout the state."

SUNY Student Assembly President Kaitlyn Beachner said, "Governor Cuomo's decision to introduce legislation that creates a rational tuition plan shows his dedication to respecting the voice of SUNY students. For the past three years the SUNY Student Assembly has been asking for Albany's support to bring an end to the politicization of SUNY tuition, which places an undue burden on students and their families around the state. We applaud the Governor's effort to end the harsh tuition spikes that have been detrimental to SUNY's accessibility. By having the SUNY Board of Trustee's establish a revolving loan fund at a low interest rate and ensuring the protection of those students who fully depend on the Tuition Assistance Program, the accessibility for all students remains intact despite potential tuition increases. I look forward to working with the Governor and Legislature towards the enactment of a final tuition plan that will benefit all students in the State University of New York. I am delighted that the students of SUNY have found a new partner in Governor Andrew Cuomo."

New York State Building and Construction Trades Council President Ed Malloy said, "On behalf of New York's 220,000 unionized construction workers, the NYS Building & Construction Trades Council is excited to learn about the Governor's NYSUNY 2020 program that has the potential to create thousands of jobs – great news for our industry which is experiencing unemployment rates between 20-60 percent across the state. Over the last 18 months, the Building Trades have worked hard with SUNY over to ensure that labor protections and good-paying jobs for New Yorkers are part of this effort, and are proud to be a part of it."

Currently, the 20 year average annual SUNY tuition increase is 6.7 percent, well above that proposed in the rational tuition plan. Under the existing system, there are periods without tuition increases followed by sudden and dramatic spikes in tuition of upwards of 40 percent. Such spikes and uncertainty in tuition is detrimental to students, families, and the university system.

Provisions in the legislation include:

  • Authorizing all SUNY campuses to implement a rational tuition plan by increasing tuition five percent annually for five years
  • Authorizing University Centers to implement a rational plus tuition plan by including an additional three percent increase annually for five years conditioned on the approval of their NYSUNY 2020 applications by the Governor and SUNY Chancellor
  • Requiring that any tuition increase under the five year rational tuition does not apply to students eligible for maximum TAP award
  • Creating a State University Low Interest Revolving Loan Fund
  • Requiring conflict of interest policies for implementation of NYSUNY Challenge Grant Program
  • Authorizing the Empire State Development Corporation to issue $80 million in bond proceeds to implement NY-SUNY Challenge Grant Program

The bill is available here. The bill memo is available here.

University at Albany President George M. Philip said, "UAlbany supports and applauds Governor Cuomo's efforts to build on the academic and research strengths of the four SUNY University Centers to stimulate greater economic growth in New York State. The Governor's NYSUNY 2020 challenge grant program is an important initiative closely coupled with the need for tuition flexibility, which will allow the University at Albany to grow its academic enterprise, create jobs, attract research funding, and spur economic growth in the Capital Region. UAlbany pledges that along with tuition flexibility it will fulfill its responsibility to maintain accessibility to students with financial need."

Alfred State College President John Anderson said, "I commend Governor Cuomo for supporting a rational tuition plan. Predictability and planning is essential when providing a college education. The plan will support the SUNY goals of access, affordability, and completion. On behalf of the Alfred State College family, thank you Governor Cuomo, for recognizing the needs of SUNY's students; supporting a rational tuition plan allows SUNY to continue to provide high quality education at an affordable price."

Binghamton University President C. Peter Magrath said, "We commend and thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to the SUNY system. His visionary leadership in supporting a rational tuition and tuition plus program will give Binghamton University the tools and resources we need to provide the kind of quality educational experience that New Yorkers expect and deserve from us. We are also proud to be a partner in the NYSUNY2020 initiative. Binghamton University has laid out an ambitious community oriented, community driven agenda that will enable us to leverage our academic excellence, cutting-edge research and economic development initiatives to jump-start a new era of powerful and productive returns to the Southern Tier and New York state."

College at Brockport President John R. Halstead said, "I commend Governor Cuomo for his visionary leadership in recognizing the State University of New York as a partner in the revitalization of this great state. A five-year rational tuition plan such as the governor supports will allow students and parents to better plan for the costs of attending college and will give The College at Brockport greater ability to provide a more complete educational experience."

Buffalo State College President Aaron Podolefsky said, "We have a tremendous advocate for higher education in Governor Andrew Cuomo. I would like to thank him for his leadership on behalf of the State University of New York. A responsible, predictable and fair tuition policy is in the best interest of today's students, future students and all citizens of New York. And it is absolutely the right decision for Buffalo State and its people. A plan of rational annual tuition increases is the best means of ensuring that future generations have access to high-quality public higher education and that communities such as ours grow a population ready for the world of the 21st century."

University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi said, "We commend the governor for his vision and commitment to public higher education. With this legislation, we, at the University at Buffalo, will be able to ensure our students are provided the highest quality education so that they may achieve their academic and career aspirations. Quite importantly, this predictable tuition program provides students and families with the ability to financially plan for their education and, at the same time, protects access for students with financial need."

SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy said, "Governor Andrew Cuomo has provided insightful leadership on behalf of the SUNY System. His support of the rational tuition plan will help SUNY Canton continue to grow and develop. This plan will enable our students and their families to predict and budget for the future while maintaining accessibility and affordability."

SUNY Cobleskill President Donald P. Zingale said, "Among its many benefits, a rational tuition plan will permit families to plan ahead with certainty for college education. Governor Cuomo is to be commended for his support of SUNY's plan, which is so important to maintaining New York's place as the Empire State."

SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum said, "I salute and commend our Governor on his support for a Rational Tuition Policy. This encourages an effective partnership between New York families and our state universities and colleges, for it allows our students to have a predictable and fair understanding of what it will cost to receive a college education. Moreover, it will bolster access and permit students to complete their degrees in four years. I believe that this new policy will help thousands of New Yorkers achieve their dreams of attending the college of their choice."

SUNY Delhi President Candace Vancko said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership in supporting a rational tuition policy for the State University of New York. A tuition policy that is affordable and predictable was strongly endorsed by our Student Senate this year. They understand how important planning for the cost of a college education is for our students and their families because 30 percent of Delhi students come from households with incomes less than $30,000. They also realize that any additional tuition revenues will be used to ensure students have access to the courses they need to graduate on time."

SUNY Downstate Medical Center President John C. LaRosa said, "Having a rational tuition plan has long been a goal for the University. To sustain higher education, to ensure its quality and affordability, and to make certain it is available for underserved communities, there must be a predictable source of revenue. Rational tuition will make it much easier for students and families to set educational goals. We thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership in helping to meet these objectives."

SUNY Empire State College President Alan R. Davis said, "Ever since he gave his first State of the State Address, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has recognized and articulated the positive impact and even greater potential the State University of New York has in advancing the economy and people of this great state. The governor has come out in support of a rational tuition plan, which would ensure accessibility, affordability and predictability for public higher education. Further, a five-year plan ensures SUNY of the resources necessary to accomplish its mission. Governor Cuomo is to be commended for immediately seeing the value of SUNY and for his leadership in advancing public higher education across the state."

SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry President Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr. said, "We at ESF are very pleased with the Governor's support of the five-year rational tuition policy. It will help ensure the quality of the education that we offer while providing our students and their families with the predictability of tuition costs and a greater likelihood of timely completion of their degree requirements. The Governor has helped ensure our success as we continue to work toward a Better World Through Environmental Discovery."

Farmingdale State College President W. Hubert Keen said, "Access and affordability are of critical importance to Farmingdale State College students which is why Governor Cuomo's leadership and support for the rational tuition plan is so important. There is no doubt that a rational tuition plan that will help the public colleges develop a long-term financial strategy -- as well as assisting students and parents in their financial planning for college costs -- is absolutely necessary."

SUNY Fredonia President Dennis L. Hefner said, "I want to thank Governor Cuomo for providing leadership and support for a rational approach to SUNY tuition. The current, unpredictable "roller-coaster" approach to setting SUNY tuition not only is a disservice to our students and their families, but makes it nearly impossible for campuses to engage in long-term planning. The Governor's approach supports predictability and effective planning, and ensures that future SUNY tuition dollars will be directed exclusively to support the educational needs of our students."

SUNY Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl said, "Governor Cuomo clearly understands the vital importance of a rational tuition policy for SUNY's students and faculty--and for every New Yorker. This is epoch-making legislation. As one of SUNY's longest-serving presidents, I commend the governor for his decisive leadership. He knows that we live in an innovation economy and must invest wisely in SUNY to keep higher education of the highest quality and accessible to all New York students who seek it. He also knows that tuition needs to be predictable and fair. Our students and our state deserve nothing less, and the rational tuition bill will go a long way to ensure that excellence remains achievable for our students from all walks of life."

SUNY Maritime College President John Craine said, "We are tremendously grateful and appreciative of Governor's Cuomo's support of SUNY's Rational Tuition Plan. The Plan is critical to SUNY Maritime College being able to continue to provide the educational programs our students need to graduate on time, and for the College to remain relevant in meeting the maritime and national security needs of the Nation as well as the State of New York."

Morrisville State College Interim President Richard J. Carreno said, "Governor Cuomo has recognized that SUNY is vitally important to the economic well being of this state. His support of a rational tuition plan will insure that all residents of this state have access to a quality higher education experience and allow them to reasonably predict the cost of their education."

SUNY New Paltz Interim President Donald P. Christian said, "I am grateful for Governor Cuomo's support of a rational tuition policy for SUNY. Predictable tuition will allow New Paltz students and their families to manage educational costs and plan for their future. Additional tuition revenue will allow us to hire faculty to teach the courses students need to complete their degrees – an essential and sometimes overlooked aspect of educational access. Even with the increases in tuition provided by a rational tuition policy, public higher education in New York is extremely affordable. Nonetheless, the College is committed to directing part of increased tuition revenue towards financial aid to assure continued access to a New Paltz degree and education."

SUNY College at Old Westbury President Calvin O. Butts, III said, "Prior to his election as Governor, Andrew Cuomo had assured me that he is a friend to SUNY and was deeply interested in the education of all New Yorkers. Since his election, he has been true to his word. To his credit, Governor Cuomo continues to work to be sure that all residents of the State of New York have complete access to a high-quality, affordable college education."

SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski said, "We applaud Governor Cuomo for his vision of SUNY as being integral to New York's future and his commitment to college students and their families across the state. Perhaps more than any other single initiative, rational tuition will help SUNY Oneonta to deliver on our promise of excellence by sustaining our affordability and quality for years to come."

SUNY College of Optometry President David A. Heath said, "We are grateful to Governor Cuomo for his dynamic role in proposing a rational tuition policy for SUNY. We appreciate the Governor's pragmatic approach and long-range planning initiatives which will allow our students to better financially plan their futures as they prepare to enter the profession of Optometry,"

SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley said, "SUNY has been seeking a rational tuition plan for many years because it largely removes the element of uncertainty that has made it difficult for our students and their families to budget for their education and for campus administrators to budget for course delivery. Approval of this measure will allow more students to stay in school and campuses to better deliver the courses students need to complete their degrees. I applaud Gov. Cuomo for his leadership on behalf of our students and faculty."

SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling said, "Our thanks go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for realizing that, in order to maintain quality in the SUNY system and to help students and their parents plan for the future, we need a rational tuition plan."

SUNY Potsdam President John F. Schwaller said, "Rational tuition must become part of the standard practice of SUNY and the State of New York in order to allow families to plan effectively for college costs. At the same time, SUNY Potsdam is dedicated to providing a quality education at a reasonable cost to the students of New York. Access should not be determined on the basis of income."

Purchase College President Thomas J. Schwarz said, "We commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership and for recognizing the needs of SUNY faculty and students. For years, Purchase College has advocated for a rational tuition plan that will allow for the College as well as students and their families to better anticipate the costs of education. This level of transparency is crucial to careful planning, regardless of income level. The plan is an important benchmark of fiscal prudence and efficiency for all New Yorkers."

Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. said, "NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant is exciting for SUNY, for Stony Brook University and for the Long Island region. We support rational tuition, and Tuition Plus, and we applaud Governor Cuomo for his vision and leadership and Chancellor Nancy Zimpher for her commitment on these important initiatives. The Stony Brook University Senate, student leaders, members of the business community and leaders of the Long Island labor workforce have been very supportive of our SUNY 2020 application, which includes the construction of a new translational medical research building. When implemented, this new facility will further our mission of education, research, and discovery of cutting edge cancer research, clinical trials and new medical treatments, while helping the Long Island economy recover from this current downturn."

SUNY IT President Bjong Wolf Yeigh said, "I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership on this issue. Once again, his support for SUNY has demonstrated a keen understanding of the important role our University plays in the lives of all New Yorkers. Our students and faculty depend on a robust system of public higher education, one that can fulfill its mission of education, research and service. Thanks to the Governor's support, a rational tuition policy will enable SUNYIT and all SUNY campuses to continue to ensure access to quality education; our students will be able to complete their studies in a timely manner while they and their parents make this important life investment affordably and predictably."

SUNY Upstate Medical University President David R. Smith said, "We applaud the governor's leadership on his support for a rational tuition policy for the state university. New York's public colleges, universities and academic medical centers must remain accessible, affordable and must continue to flourish as we educate New York's future workforce. Such a plan would help meet those goals and also enable students and their families to better plan for a higher education path that includes the state university system."

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