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November 21, 2008

 

SUNY students mixed on tuition increase

Many students too busy with final course work to absorb impact higher costs will have on them

SUNYJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland students make their way to and from evening classes Wednesday in front of Old Main.

By SCOTT CONROE
Staff Reporter
sconroe@cortlandstandard.net

As they head into the final few weeks of the semester, some SUNY Cortland students are not paying much attention to talk of more budget cuts and a tuition increase for next semester.
The ones who are listening to the news or reading it online are more concerned about SUNY budget cuts by Gov. David Paterson and about how quickly tuition will rise, said Student Government Association President Casey Hahl.
Two days after the SUNY Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition by $310 a semester for the spring and next fall, Hahl said students are worried about whether budget cuts will affect their ability to take courses they need in order to graduate, as well as other aspects of campus life.
SUNY Cortland’s budget has been cut by $3 million since the spring by Gov. David Paterson, who chopped $210 million from the SUNY system’s four-year campuses and two-year technical colleges. The tuition increase, the first since 2003, would start with bills being mailed out in December.
Tuition would be $4,970, a 14 percent increase, and then would rise again annually about 4 percent. The number of years it would rise is unknown.
The Legislature still must approve the money’s dispersal to campuses. Legislators ended their special session Tuesday without doing so. Paterson has said he wants 90 percent of the money from the tuition increase to go to other state agencies, not SUNY.
“Students realize a tuition increase is the only option at this point,” Hahl said. “But they are angry that it’s this fast. They want a ‘rational tuition increase,’ more gradual, so they can plan for it.”
She said the SUNY Student Assembly’s executive board, which she belongs to, is fighting for that kind of increase.
Out-of-state students will pay $2,260 more for the next two semesters.
SUNY Cortland students interviewed Thursday mostly said they had not heard about the tuition hike and not much about the budget cuts, at least since the beginning of the semester. They are focused on their schoolwork as the semester enters its final weeks. Classes end Dec. 5.
“I’m sure my parents are nervous, since all four of us kids are in college right now,” said freshman Greta Tomaschke of East Aurora, who was working a Relay for Life information table at Corey Student Union.
“I guarantee my parents are nervous,” said her classmate Briana Bonn, also from East Aurora. “But right now, kids have a lot of work and nobody is talking about (the tuition increase). I remember my history teacher talking about the budget cuts back in September, but I haven’t heard much since.”
The situation is different for nontraditional students like James Nolan, 30, an elementary education major who commutes three days a week from Watkins Glen.
“I was not aware of the tuition hike for next semester,” Nolan said. “It will make attending college more difficult. Watkins Glen to Cortland is 45 miles one way, 270 miles a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The added cost of tuition will not be a hardship but will make it harder.
“Three hundred dollars here and there adds up after a while.”

 

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