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Frequently Asked Questions about the NYSUNY 2020 Bill

Published June 24, 2011

What is the NYSUNY 2020 bill?

Introduced by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, this pioneering piece of legislation was created to implement the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program -- a joint program between the governor and the State University of New York (SUNY) -- to 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 provides a means to invest in the long-term economic development plans on SUNY campuses and in the surrounding communities.

The bill authorizes all SUNY campuses to implement a rational tuition plan that gives the campuses the ability to raise tuition up to $300 annually for five years. 

Importantly, the bill prevents the state from cutting funding to SUNY an amount equal to the revenue generated by tuition increases. This was a long-standing practice in Albany following SUNY tuition increases. In addition, as a component of the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program, the four University Centers in Buffalo, Albany, Binghamton and Stony Brook are authorized to raise tuition 10 percent for out-of-state students.  

To offset the impact of tuition increases on low- and middle-income students and families, the bill provides a financial aid program. To ensure equitable access to UB, the university also will invest a portion of tuition revenues into need-based financial aid.

Why is this legislation good for UB, its students and the community?

UB views the tuition policy articulated in Gov. Cuomo’s legislation as a fair and responsible tuition policy for SUNY’s campuses. Through this program of predictable tuition increases, UB can better invest in students’ education and in the pursuit of groundbreaking research. 

The legislation will provide UB with the financial resources to pursue the next phase of its UB 2020 plan for academic excellence, a far-reaching plan to transform UB into a world-class public university, enhancing for students and alumni alike the value of a UB education and degree.

UB will use funding provided by the bill’s tuition plan to offer students the very best academic programs, hire new faculty in a variety of academic disciplines and spur economic development in Western New York through groundbreaking research and education of a talented workforce prepared to excel in a 21st century economy.

As the next phase of UB 2020 progresses, the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences will relocate to downtown Buffalo in a new state-of-the-art-facility on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. This will open up new educational opportunities for students, create opportunities to improve health care throughout the region and help spur the growth of new jobs and businesses. The university anticipates that more than 3,000 jobs will be created in Western New York by 2018.

How will UB invest the tuition increases and capital funding authorized by the bill to benefit students?

UB will invest tuition revenues directly into the education of our students. The university will expand course offerings throughout the university, particularly in high-demand subjects. We will implement smaller class-sizes and expand research opportunities for students, which will improve the quality of our students’ educational experience and degree completion rate.  UB will hire outstanding faculty members who will teach and mentor students and who will contribute to groundbreaking research in key academic disciplines.

Capital funding from the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant, authorized in the bill, will enable the university to relocate the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to downtown Buffalo within a new state-of-the-art facility. This new facility will be located on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in close proximity to other UB facilities and the region’s leading health care institutions. Collaboration among these institutions will improve regional health care and medical education, produce groundbreaking medical research and spur economic development.

The overall goal is to provide UB students with the highest quality education programs and activities, comparable to those offered at the best universities in the world. These additions to UB’s academic and research excellence are expected lead to more ideas, greater discoveries and better educational outcomes for UB’s students that will also benefit the surrounding community, the state and the world.

How is UB ensuring affordability for students and their families?

In order to ensure tuition affordability, this legislation will help students and families with the cost increases. UB is strongly committed to keeping access to a quality higher education affordable for lower- and middle-income students.

Students who are eligible for the maximum Tuition Assistance Program ("TAP") award will not be impacted by the tuition increases authorized by the bill. To ensure equitable access to UB, the university also will invest a portion of tuition revenues into need-based financial aid. Even with increases in tuition, UB will remain one of the most affordable public universities in the U.S.

With the bill’s rational tuition plan, students and families will be able to plan for increases in tuition instead of being surprised by sudden spikes of tuition that historically have been used to fund the state budget instead of investing in education programs and new faculty on SUNY campuses. Such spikes and uncertainty in tuition levels are detrimental to students, families and the university system.

Where can I find specific information about UB’s new tuition rates and financial aid opportunities?

The university is in the process of reviewing the legislation as it pertains to tuition, fees, and financial aid. UB’s Student Response Center will update its website once specific information is available.

How does this new tuition rate compare statewide and nationally?

Even with this tuition increase, UB tuition will remain a significant bargain as compared with our peers among major public research universities nationwide, as well as our fellow Association of American Universities (AAU) public institutions.

New York State tuition has long been a national outlier compared to other public flagships and our peer AAU public institutions.  Compared with public higher education tuition and fee rates across the country, SUNY tuition and fees are well below those of our state peers (Pennsylvania’s public tuition, for example, is more than 110 percent higher than SUNY’s). When compared with our AAU peers, UB tuition and fees are also among the lowest nationwide. 

The increases in tuition that this legislation authorizes are well within national norms.  Consider these comparisons:

  • Over the last 20 years, our public AAU peers have increased their resident tuition by almost 8 percent annually, on average. 
  • And over the same time period, SUNY tuition has increased on average by almost 7 percent per year -- but in a highly unpredictable way that has meant uncertainty and financial difficulty for our students.

Why is it important to move the UB medical school to downtown Buffalo?

UB’s commitment to downtown Buffalo is fundamental to the next phase of the UB 2020 plan for academic excellence.

Read about the details of UB’s plan to move to downtown Buffalo, under the NYSUNY Challenge Grant.

Relocating the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to downtown Buffalo, under the NYSUNY Challenge Grant, will do three things: It will enable the university to build a state-of-the-art education and research facility for medical students; it will improve health care in Western New York by creating an environment where researchers, physicians and students work together to offer better patient care and medical treatments; and it will enhance the existing Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, creating new opportunities for economic development fueled by medical research and state-of-the-art patient care, as well as new economic opportunities for businesses located in and around the campus.

As the UB medical school moves downtown and new faculty are hired throughout UB, the university anticipates creating 1,325 new jobs at UB and 1,700 new jobs in the community as a result of UB’s research growth. More than 1,600 construction jobs would be created, as well, to build the new UB medical school in downtown Buffalo.

Western New York business and community leaders have united to embrace the UB 2020 plan. With the passage of the bill, the university is now ready to build upon the assets it already has on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in order to build a world-class university and fuel a vibrant 21st-century innovation economy for our region and state.

When will the UB medical school move?

We are ready to begin this project now. We have a financial strategy in place, collaborating partners who are ready to engage and a community that recognizes the importance of UB’s role in revitalizing downtown Buffalo. This summer, we will have completed the final development plan for the new medical school site, which will be located at the intersection of Main and High streets next to Buffalo General Hospital, and by the summer of 2016 construction of a new UB medical school will be completed.

The medical school relocation, however, is only one piece of the university’s growing presence in downtown Buffalo. UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center and its Biosciences Incubator, are scheduled to open in fall 2011 in a new clinical and medical research building being constructed as a joint venture with Kaleida Health’s Global Vascular Institute. This collaborative medical facility will focus on translating medical research into new treatments and technologies for patient care.

In June, the university will open the UB Institute for Healthcare Informatics, leveraging a $15 million investment from computer giant Dell, and focused on improving patient care through more efficient sharing and interpretation of medical records.  

UB also recently broke ground on construction of a new Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) that will provide job-training in entry-level science, medical and technology fields. In addition, the new UB Downtown Gateway, located next door to the site of the new EOC, is home to the administrative offices of UBMD, representing more than 450 faculty physicians, as well as UB’s Office of Economic Engagement. 

In 2005, UB opened the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences to focus on creation of new medical innovations/research and the spin-off of life-science technologies and businesses locally. UB’s Research Institute on Addictions also is located on the downtown medical campus.

Collaborations among these UB facilities and Buffalo’s other leading health care and research institutions are helping to transform Buffalo into a hub for ground-breaking medical care, education and research.

Is UB scaling back its UB 2020 plan?

No. “UB 2020” is the name given to the university’s long-term strategic vision of achieving its full potential as a world-class public research university. This vision includes several strategies for enhancing academic excellence and research excellence, many of which are already underway.

Moving the medical school downtown is simply the next logical step of our long-range plan. Authorization of the NYSUNY 2020 bill will advance the next phase of UB 2020, creating new programs of academic excellence, new jobs and significant new economic development over the next five years. 

What will happen to UB South Campus when medical school moves??

UB’s comprehensive physical master plan specifies that the UB South Campus will become a center for professional education, with the Law School, Graduate School of Education, School of Social Work and executive education programs of the School of Management joining the School of Architecture and Planning on the historic campus.

The plan envisions better and more attractive connections between the campus and the surrounding neighborhood.  Historic quadrangles and campus green spaces will be beautified, removing unsightly temporary buildings, recovering grand lawns from parking and revitalizing landscapes.

In addition, the master plan for the South Campus calls for rehabilitation of historic structures, improvements to pedestrian paths, public access and way-finding, with new security enhancements and campus lighting, better systems for transit patrons and bicycle commuters, a simplified campus perimeter road and a new Bailey Avenue entrance. Several of these improvements have already been made, or are currently underway.

Is UB privatizing?

No. The University at Buffalo is and will remain public, a flagship campus of the State University of New York system. UB remains committed to its mission as a public research university, educating students of all socio-economic levels and being a vital contributor to the region’s economy and quality of life.

The NYSUNY 2020 bill and UB 2020 plan will enable UB to achieve its full potential as a world-class research and teaching institution, and a stronger university that will academically and economically benefit students, families and all of Western New York. As the university implements the next phase of the UB 2020 plan, we anticipate significantly increasing, not decreasing, the number of union jobs at UB.

OverviewThe UB 2020 Initiative