SUNY board of trustees approves tuition increase

UB undergraduates will pay $300 more for tuition in 2015-16 year

The Spectrum

On Thursday, SUNY trustees approved an increase SUNY tuition by $300 for the final year in the NYSUNY 2020 Tuition Plan. Tuition at UB and other SUNY schools will now be $6,470 for in-state undergraduates for the 2015-16 school year.

In 2011, the State legislature enacted the NY SUNY 2020 Tuition Plan that calls for an annual tuition increase for five years. The 2015-16 academic school year will be the final year of the five-year tuition plan. Some UB students understand the reasons for the increase, but some feel there should be more transparency in the tuition distribution.

The plan requires the SUNY board of trustees to look over the plan in the November of each year to make any adjustments.

Trustee Joseph Belluck voted against the plan and said it was important to find out how the tuition increases impact students.

“Even though the increase can seem marginal to us, given our station in life, they’re not insignificant to the students who attend our schools,” Belluck said in the meeting, which was broadcast online. “Even a few hundred dollars is a lot of money to a lot of them.”

Stacey Hengsterman, associate vice chancellor for Government Relations, said SUNY tuition was “chaotic” before the plan was enacted.

“When the governor came in with the plan, we had a sense of normalcy, and we’ve really seen our campuses be able to use that money to invest,” she said.

Before the tuition plan, SUNY tuition fluctuated depending on the New York State budget process. SUNY 2020 removed tuition from being factored into the budget.

Out of tuition money, 25 percent goes to scholarships, according to Cary Staller, SUNY trustee and chairman of the finance and administration committee.

John DellaContrada, UB spokesperson, said the tuition plan “has made and will continue to make significant investments in academic programs and courses, in providing additional financial aid to students, in faculty hiring, in faculty research across the university and in campus facilities” at UB.

Maria Apruzzese, a first-year graduate law student, said UB’s tuition is already low compared to other universities.

“I think that there’s been an increase in a lot of universities,” she said. “So $300, it doesn’t seem that much compared to what some other schools are doing and probably compared to the cost of the schools face in recent years.”

Tuition for graduate program students and students from out of state will be higher than the $300 for undergraduate students.

Emmanuell McBryde, a senior health and human services major, said the increased tuition amount could have a large impact on students.

“Some people may believe it’s OK, but people who have to take out loans, the constant increase in costs means that we’re kind of further putting ourselves in more and more debt,” he said. “Each time we have to take out loans, we have to compensate for that increase.”

Belluck said there are about 20 SUNY campuses with food banks for students to supplement their meals.

McBryde said the $300 may be substantial to some students, but may not be much to others.

“So it really depends on economic situations,” he said.

Navid Siddiqui, a sophomore exercise science major, said he would be less reluctant to pay the increase if he was aware of where the money was going. He compares it to the $94.75 student activity fee, which students pay to the Student Association, and how he knows what events that fee is contributing toward.

DellaContrada said the plan has helped UB to make multiple advancements like hiring 277 total faculty members and adding to the $3 million investment of the revamped general education program.

The five-year tuition plan ends in 2016 and there are currently no plans for a similar legislation for the future.

Apruzzese said SUNY 2020 helps to create a structure for SUNY.

“They need to prepare for the future like that, it’s good to have a plan in mind like that so that students know what they are gonna get into especially four years down the road,” she said.

UB provides an online summary of its tuition, which includes a comprehensive fee, activity fee and academic excellence fee.

McBrydge said UB should publicize where tuition dollars are going.

“If the students don’t know about it to begin with, how are they going to look for it,” he said. “They don’t know the buzz words, what to search for to find more information.”