2015 Higher Education Action Day Platform

February 27, 2015

Increase funding for CUNY and SUNY

 

Since 2008, CUNY and SUNY have lost $1.5 billion in State funding, threatening the quality of public higher education and leading to tuition hikes. The Executive Budget continues this trend. It allows for tuition hikes of $300 or more for CUNY and SUNY schools, but funds none of the university systems’ projected cost increases for fringe benefits and contractual salary increases, and provides no money for rising energy rates, rent hikes, and other expenses. The SUNY 2020 law promised stable funding for CUNY and SUNY, so tuition hikes could go toward educational improvements. Without public funding for unavoidable mandatory costs, the promise of SUNY 2020 is broken, and funds from tuition hikes must be used to fill holes in college and university budgets. The Legislature should restore $310 million to cover inflationary cost increases for SUNY and CUNY, and a genuine maintenance of effort that covers all mandatory cost increases for CUNY, SUNY and the SUNY hospitals must be established.

 

Invest in full-time faculty to improve student success

 

Years of disinvestment and enrollment growth have led to shortages of full-time faculty for both university systems. Increased class sizes and limited space in classes required for graduation are the results for students. Heavy faculty workloads and exploitation of low-wage adjunct faculty are the results for colleges. The Legislature should provide funds for additional full-time faculty this year, and the State should establish an endowment to fund continued investments in full-time faculty at CUNY and SUNY.

 

Increase community colleges Base Aid by $250 per FTE

 

Community colleges currently receive $178 less per FTE in Base Aid than they did in 2008-09. Restoring Base Aid will reduce upward pressure on New York’s already high community college tuition, and protect educational quality. Ultimately, the state should fund 40% of community colleges’ operating budgets, as set by law. The first step is adding $250 per FTE.

 

To protect quality and opportunity, reject performance funding

 

The Executive Budget would withhold 10% of CUNY and SUNY funding pending colleges’ submission of improvement plans to meet ill-conceived “performance measures.” Shifting to performance funding would wreak havoc with colleges’ ability to plan, hire staff and provide for students’ needs. Worse, it could undermine access, incentivizing enrollment of students who will generate the statistics needed to guarantee funding. Other states have tried similar schemes with little success; fourteen have abandoned their programs.

 

Pass the NY DREAM Act and Reform the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)

 

The Legislature should pass the NY DREAM Act this session and enact the reforms called for by the Coalition to Reform the NYS Tuition Assistance Program. Undocumented students, most part-time students, incarcerated students, and students who exceed TAP’s limit of eight semesters cannot receive TAP. Financially independent students without dependents have a hard time qualifying for TAP, and receive smaller awards when they do qualify.

 

Make graduate school tuition tax deductible

 

The State should make graduate school tuition eligible for the NYS Tuition Tax Credit/Deduction. The tax benefit is currently only available to undergraduates. TAP for graduate students was recently eliminated, and little need-based aid is available to them.

 

Fully restore State funding for SUNY's teaching hospitals

 

Restore subsidies to SUNY’s teaching hospitals to $128 million, reject the Article 7 private equity pilot proposal, and ensure that the $700 million capital investment appropriated to support “health care facility transformation” in Brooklyn is subject to competitive bidding and used for comprehensive ambulatory care facilities.

 

Restore opportunity programs and other initiatives

 

The Executive Budget cuts funding for programs that increase student access, retention and graduation rates. The Legislature should restore investment in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC) at SUNY, SEEK and College Discovery at CUNY, CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), CUNY LEADS and other programs.

 

Sponsoring Organizations:

University Student Senate

New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)

New York State United Teachers (NYSUT)

Professional Staff Congress/CUNY (PSC)

United University Professions (UUP)

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