NORTH ROCKLAND, N.Y. -- Assemblyman James Skoufis (D-Woodbury) joined fellow advocates, including Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster) and SUNY New Paltz students, to protest extending the state’s tuition policy, which mandates automatic tuition increases each year, for an additional five years.
“There is nothing ‘rational’ about automatic tuition increases, particularly at a time with students and families continue to make significant financial sacrifices to afford college,” said Skoufis. “Far too many students graduate with crushing debt, and spiraling higher education costs are making it difficult for many middle-class families to afford an education.”
Skoufis also pointed out that SUNY’s top administrators earn high taxpayer-funded salaries, driving up the cost to attend our state’s public colleges. The SUNY Chancellor received a pay raise last year, bringing her salary to more than $500,000 on top of a $96,000 housing allowance; the governor of New York in comparison, earns $179,000.
Cahill echoed his colleague’s sentiment, saying, “The so-called ‘Rational Tuition Plan’ has resulted in the greatest run of tuition inflation in the history of SUNY. The promise by the State of New York to maintain our effort has been an annual struggle and anemic, at best. I am pleased additional resources are going to our local campuses, but equally disturbed that more and more students every day, particularly those from the Hudson Valley, are finding even SUNY unaffordable.”
The Assembly budget proposal released on Friday, March 11, rejects the extension of rational tuition and instead freezes SUNY tuition for the next two years. Brandon Missig, a SUNY New Paltz student and member of New York Students Rising (NYSR) argues, “The rational tuition increases imposed on SUNY students annually over the past five years have been unnecessary and detrimental to students.” To further reduce the costs of higher education, Skoufis authored the Tuition-Free NY bill, which makes SUNY and CUNY tuition free for students who agree to work and reside in-state for five years following graduation.
“Tuition-Free NY would give bright and talented students the incentive to stay and put down roots here in New York, helping to grow and strengthen the economy,” said Skoufis.