Members of the State Assembly held a public hearing in Albany Wednesday to try to figure out how to make college more affordable. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the hearing was held the same week SUNY is discussing a possible tuition increase.
“The less time students spend in college, the less they spend on college," stated SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. Zimpher testified at Wednesday's hearing.
The Chancellor emphasized the importance of access to higher education, but noted students should complete their college in four years to avoid extra costs. She used UB's “Finish in 4” program as a key example of how SUNY is trying to make sure students graduate on time.
“The University at Buffalo launched 'Finish in 4,' as I said, in 2012, with 63 percent of the first enrollees graduating this semester, far exceeding the national average of 34 percent for public institutions,” stated Zimpher.
The SUNY leader noted state schools are still affordable. But SUNY is in the midst of proposing a tiered tuition increase, letting colleges decide on the amount of $100, $200 or $300. The proposal could be voted on by the SUNY Board of Trustees this week, but any tuition hike would need approval by the New York State Legislature.
Some SUNY Buffalo State students are not pleased to hear about any potential increase. They’re already struggling to pay current tuition.
“It’s terrifying because I already pay a lot as a student going here, so now, knowing that there could be a possible increase—that’s more, more money that I’m going to have to dish out,” said Nairobi Cousar, a freshman at Buffalo State.
Cousar said any increase would be a burden. Right now, she's paying $10,000 this semester and already has one loan.
“It’s going to be less, less, less affordable for students, so students are just getting their way and just to pay out of pocket or the little financial aid they have—now knowing that it could be an increase, that’s less money,” Corsar said.
Buffalo State freshman Joshue Cruz was concerned about a proposed tuition hike. “I say that would stop other students from coming into college because it’s already enough,” Cruz said.
Cruz has loans and is waiting for some Say Yes Buffalo scholarship money.
“We pay so much already. My tuition like $24,000, and it’s only for a year”, Cruz noted.
Students tell WBFO they fear another tuition increase will force some students to drop out.