Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed tuition hikes for SUNY and CUNY schools have alarmed student advocates, who say the financial hit comes at the worst time.
Hochul on Tuesday pitched 3% annual tuition increases for in-state SUNY and CUNY students — and hikes of up to 6% at the state’s flagship universities in Albany, Buffalo, Binghamton and Stony Brook. The increases would go into effect next fall.
In-state tuition at SUNY schools is currently $7,070 a year and $5,130 for the system’s community colleges, while CUNY students pay $6,930 a year or $4,800 at community colleges.
The increases proposed by Hochul — the first since the pandemic began — would mean students would pay roughly $144 to $424 more for tuition next year.
“The pandemic has made things hard for students already,” said Salimatou Doumbouya, an architecture major at New York City College of Technology and chair of the CUNY University Student Senate. “A tuition hike does not help at all.”
Alexandria Chun, president of SUNY's Student Assembly, said the group stands “in solidarity against tuition increases of any sorts.”
The governor’s office said the proposed tuition increases will not affect students who have full scholarships through the state’s tuition assistance or Excelsior programs.
“Gov. Hochul's plan for CUNY and SUNY ensures that no student receiving a full TAP award or an Excelsior scholarship will experience additional tuition costs, while also providing for the long-term future and fiscal stability of public higher education in New York,” a spokesperson for Hochul said in a statement.
Hochul’s proposed hikes come as CUNY’s buildings are in dire need of repairs. School administrators have requested funding to address what they say is billions of dollars in deferred maintenance at the system’s roughly 300 buildings. Students at many CUNY campuses have in recent years reported heat outages, broken toilets and crumbling infrastructure.
Blair Horner, executive director of the good government group New York Public Interest Research Group, called the proposed increases disappointing.
“We've seen in history… that raising tuition has an impact on who can go to school,” said Horner. “New York as its policy should be making college easier to access, easier to afford – not harder.”
He noted the full details of the tuition hikes will be released in Hochul’s budget, which must be published by Feb. 1.
“Is she, for example, going to combine that with increased financial aid? We don't know,” Horner said.
Doumbouya said CUNY students were an overwhelmingly low-income demographic who will struggle to pay increased tuition fees.
“We were already worried about the budget cuts that the mayor had proposed for CUNY. And now, tuition hikes. They are not welcome at all,” Doumbouya said.