By Wyatt Gorman | March 29, 2021
SUNY student leaders have given Gov. Andrew Cuomo an “F” grade on his “Higher Education Report Card” and say that he has not met the financial, educational or mental health needs of students.
The report card, which was presented to the governor earlier this month in response to his executive budget proposal, included topics such as tuition policy, state-funded financial aid, mental health services, and academic support programs designed to help low-income and first generation students succeed in college.
“A grader never wants to fail their students, but with an executive proposal that aims to balance the budget on the backs of our students, the choice was clear,” SUNY SA President Bradley Hershenson told the ASP.
On some topics Cuomo earned an “incomplete” because his budget proposal either included no support or not enough support for critical student services, said Hershenson, who added there’s still time for the governor to improve.
“Since the budget must be adopted by April 1 there is still time left for the governor to provide the support students need, and by doing so he could easily receive an A+,” he said.
For EOP funding, the governor received an A minus on the report car. This was the highest grade he received because the governor usually removes all funding from the EOP program but this year he decided to include it within the budget proposal. “There are still rising costs that need to be met, and proposed funding is not quite adequate” added Hershenson.
One topic of major concern is language in the budget that the SUNY SA President and SUNY SA say suggests increases in tuition at SUNY. The governor's plan will increase the resident tuition rate at SUNY by $200 until the 2025 academic year.
The increase in tuition will be reinvested into SUNY and to improve “student success and completion” also, it will be put towards faculty and tuition credits for TAP eligible students. TAP is a SUNY Tuition Assistance Program that helps eligible NYS residents with payments towards tuition. An annual TAP award can be around $5,000 depending on the academic year of the student receiving the award. SUNY school tuition can be about $7,000.
“It is unfathomable to believe students and their families could afford increases in tuition during a pandemic,” said Hershenson. “With billions of dollars on the way to New York from Washington D.C. that language should be changed to indicate decreases in tuition at our campuses. That will allow us to hold true to the notions of affordability and accessibility.”