Several of the region's private colleges say Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal for free state college would have a negative effect on their schools. WBFO's Senior Reporter Eileen Buckley says members of the Medaille College community are being encouraged to write to state lawmakers to consider an increase for the Tuition Assistance Program instead of supporting the tuition-free plan for SUNY.
“The lobbying efforts that we have are in full force. We are doing it individually from our desks at our various campuses,” said Dr. Kenneth Macur, president at Medaille College.
Macur said he remains skeptical about how much Cuomo's plan would cost the state and taxpayers. The Governor wants students in families earning $125,000 or less to receive tuition free scholarships to all state colleges and universities.
Macur is more concerned about how it might effect a student's "right to choose" a college.
“More than being worried about what happens to Medaille, I’m worried about students who are forced into huge lecture halls. Forced into schools where the graduation rates aren’t as good, where the care and concern doesn’t exist as it does at Medaille and what’s going to happen to those kids,” Macur remarked.
Medaille’s tuition is a little more than $27,000. About 922 of the college's students did received $2.5 million in TAP toward their tuition.
“Sticker price goes up on an annual basis two, three percent, but the actual net tuition, on average, has been going down over the last three to four years,” Macur explained. “And so even though we’ve done a great job making college affordable for students in the region, we’d be penalized by the governor’s plan.”
When the governor appeared last month at rally Buffalo State College to seek support his idea, he made a remark about the cost of private education.
“Average student debt $29,000, $29,000 – you just can’t do it,” said Cuomo.
“One of the problems with using the debt statistics in that way, you miss that the fact that private college graduates have lower default rates on their student debt then their counterparts at public schools. And that’s in New York and that’s nationwide,” Macur said.
Macur also tells WBFO the college provides a “significant” economic impact of close to $100 million to the Buffalo community.