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The New York State Conference of the American Association of University Teachers applauded Governor Kathy Hochul’s recently released state budget proposal for its focus on higher education.
The proposed budget includes $150 million to expand the state’s Tuition Assistance Program, which financially supports New York State residents who attend SUNY, CUNY, or nonprofit independent colleges such as than Syracuse University.
“These programs help provide funds and resources to NYS students who, for a number of reasons, could not otherwise attend an institution of higher learning,” the organization wrote in a press release.
As part of the state’s investment in higher education, Hochul’s plan also aimed to fill what Fred Floss, the chairman of NYSC AAUP’s government relations committee, called the “tap gap.”
The tuition assistance program previously covered the cost of education, said Floss, who is also a professor of economics and finance at SUNY Buffalo State College. Although tuition fees have increased, the amount of funding students have received through the program has not increased.
The gap between what was needed in funding and what was given by the state had an effect on low-income families, Floss said. It also had a cascading impact on educational institutions.
“This put pressure on the budgets of higher education institutions, because since they did not have so many students, they did not have so much income, whereas before this income would have been covered by the state. “, said Floss. “It was essentially a de facto cut in higher education funding.”
Today, the Tuition Assistance Program can provide funding of up to $5,665 and can be renewed annually. Current SUNY-ESF tuition for New York State residents is $7,270, creating a gap of $1,605.
New York State Conference AAUP President Mary Rose Kubal said in the press release that it is important to support all students, regardless of background.
“By funding these vital programs, we can continue to provide strong higher education in New York State,” Kubal said.
Floss also said the governor has not cut the higher education budget, which previous governors have done.
“The traditional budgeting game has long been to cut the higher education budget and then allow the legislature to put the money back,” Floss said.
Typically, after the annual executive budget is released, committees within the state senate and assembly negotiate with the governor to increase funding in specific areas such as higher education. Now that Hochul isn’t cutting higher education spending in the executive budget, the committee doesn’t have to negotiate to avoid a cut in funds, Floss said.
The New York State AAUP conference is currently lobbying for the state budget to increase Bundy’s operation and aid to colleges and universities, the press release writes. Bundy Aid provides financial support to independent colleges and universities in New York State.
“Most of Bundy’s aid ends up going to scholarships or paying for student services,” Kubal said, “things like mental health care that schools couldn’t afford.”
Mike Haynie, SU’s vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation, told the Daily Orange in 2018 that protecting Bundy Aid was one of the top lobbying issues for the university.
“The NYS AAUP Conference is pleased with the actions taken by Governor Hochul and looks forward to working with him to provide an exemplary education for students in New York State,” the press release reads.
Published on February 2, 2022 at 10:08 p.m.
Contact Kyle: [email protected] | @Kyle_Chouinard