This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

King proposes SUNY tuition guarantee

Published: January 13, 2005

Reporter Editor

SUNY Chancellor Robert L. King has announced a proposal that would freeze tuition for all resident undergraduates at the fall 2005 level, as well as setting incremental annual tuition increases, beginning in fall 2006, and guaranteeing that the tuition rate paid by all incoming freshmen would remain frozen for the duration of their degree program.

Apart from the tuition proposal, King also has recommended a $600 across-the-board tuition increase for all students for fall 2005. This increase is necessary, SUNY administrators say, to offset more than $30 million in energy cost increases in 2004-05, which will recur in 2005-06, as well as other major mandatory recurring cost increases during the past several years, most notably collective bargaining.

The tuition proposal also calls for differential tuition at the SUNY university centers, including UB.

In order for the "SUNY Tuition Guarantee" to become effective, the Legislature will have to approve the proposal as part of the state's enacted budget.

According to a SUNY press release, the tuition policy would, if adopted:

  • Freeze tuition for all resident undergraduates at the fall 2005 level. This would enable resident undergraduate students and their families to plan more effectively for financing the costs of higher education, and to be insulated from unanticipated tuition increases.

  • Beginning in fall 2006 and continuing for freshman thereafter, set the resident undergraduate tuition rate for incoming freshmen at the tuition level of the previous year multiplied by the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI). The tuition rate then would be frozen at that level for the duration of the defined term of the students' degree program—typically four years, with some exceptions for five-year programs, military callup and other hardships.

  • Reinvest the new resources generated by the incremental annual tuition increases in the recruitment and retention of full-time, tenure-track faculty and other priority needs that enhance academic quality for students.

  • Encourage students to graduate in four years while providing the flexibility to deal with individual circumstances.

  • Provide SUNY with a predictable source of incremental tuition revenue while ensuring that state funding is provided for mandatory cost increases, such as labor contractual obligations and energy costs.

  • Set differential tuition at the SUNY university centers at Albany, Buffalo, Binghamton and Stony Brook. Under the plan, the annual resident undergraduate tuition adjustment at the university centers may be greater than the HEPI to reflect the comparatively higher level of state support dedicated to these campuses, which on average is about three times that of the comprehensive and technology college sectors. The tuition increases for students attending the university centers would not be greater than 1.5 times HEPI. Over time, the growth in tuition would be capped at 1.5 times the tuition of the SUNY comprehensive colleges

"In the past, tuition increases, which were brought on by financial crisis beyond the control of the state, have been large and unpredictable," said King. "This tuition policy would help to protect students and families from large, unpredictable increases and would provide sufficient resources for the university to invest in additional full-time faculty and other areas, which will further improve the quality of the education we provide our students and enhance academic excellence across the university."

UB President John B. Simpson is quoted in the SUNY press release as calling the tuition plan "both forward-looking and comprehensive."

"The tuition plan signals a new kind of understanding about the critical place and promise of the future of higher education in New York State," Simpson said. "It will benefit our students and their families by providing a measure of cost predictability, and it will better support our universities in providing broad access to an excellent educational experience.

"This tuition plan is perhaps most significant, however, in its recognition that strong universities do the cutting-edge research, attract the brilliant human capital, and enact the tech transfer that enables and encourages new economic development and growth," he said. "I congratulate Chancellor King and his staff for this plan, and for stimulating a new kind of discussion about how the state and SUNY will balance taxpayer support with tuition-rate structures to build and maintain a world-class system of public higher education in New York State."

Among the other campus leaders praising the tuition plan in the press release are Purchase President Thomas J. Schwarz, College of Technology at Delhi President Candace Vancko, New Paltz President Steven G. Poskanzer and Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley.

In making the case for a $600 tuition increase for fall 2005, King noted that the continued pressures of mandatory cost increases, coupled with unfunded prior year increases, "suggests that additional revenue is needed just to provide the university with the stable financial foundation necessary to ensure that the commitment to students under the SUNY Tuition Guarantee can be fulfilled."

"A $600 tuition increase for all students in fall 2005 would ensure that the university's new tuition plan can be implemented effectively," he said.

A $600 increase would raise resident undergraduate tuition from $4,350 to $4,950. Under the proposed tuition plan, entering freshmen, as well as all other full-time students enrolled in fall 2005, would have their tuition rate guaranteed for the remainder of the defined term of their degree program.

More than two-thirds of TAP recipients would have the tuition increase fully covered, the SUNY press release adds.