SUNY is one of the largest public education systems in the country, but if Gov. Andrew Cuomo checked the DegreeWorks for his own program he’d see that its outlook was bleak.
The 1.7 percent increase Cuomo has proposed in his budget plan for the state does not reflect how he publicly holds the university system on a pedestal. The governor has repeatedly referred to the SUNY system as the crown jewel of the state.
Under the proposal, Cuomo allocated $3.4 billion annually for higher education needs. Meanwhile, students are seeing state tuition increase $300 a year, an initiative started in 2011.
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher asked the state for an increase of 17.5 percent to fund NYSUNY 2020, a plan to increase the number of students graduating from SUNY by nearly 57,000 students. The program has already been able to add 520 additional instructional staff, as well as creating more than 100 new degree programs across the system. The additional funding requested would help this program continue to expand the SUNY system.
Besides simple advancements to the educational aspects of the system, Zimpher’s request asks for funding to update buildings on all 64 campuses in SUNY. Oswego State’s own campus is working on renovations as Tyler Hall is currently being updated, with plans to renovate other academic buildings in the near future. This is not a unique scenario for our port-city university, as many campuses across the state are looking to upgrade the classrooms where their students learn.
Without proper funding, the SUNY system will not remain the crown jewel of the Dark Prince’s empire. Cuomo seems to almost be on a crusade to change education in New York and whether you agree with his plans or not, the argument that more funding is necessary holds true. Underfunding will only lead to college campus seeking ways to cut corners at the expense of the students.
In addition, there is a feeling sweeping the country that college educations cost more than they should. While SUNY has quite a reasonable tuition, coming in under $8,000, this is not an excuse to push more of the costs on students, especially since most students do not have the ability to fully pay for college on their own, which is no surprise why many students leave their education or forgo higher education altogether to earn a paycheck.
If Cuomo and the state legislature really want SUNY to remain a crown jewel, they should reconsider how much funding is provided for their students.