Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley, flanked by a professor, a student, a medical center patient and a union leader, visited the Long Island Association on Tuesday to discuss the university’s bid for Governor Cuomo’s proposed $35 million challenge grant.

Stanley worked to highlight the benefits of annual 7% tuition increases, also known as rational tuition, with regards to job creation, financial aid and the quality of education while attempting to assuage the fears of students opposed to paying almost $200 more per semester next year.

Under the current version of the legislation 35% of all additional tuition would be designated for scholarships that aid low-income students.

“Students whose families make under $75,000 per year won’t pay a penny more,” said President Stanley. The policy of giving up to 35% in aid will become permanent if rational tuition does

Incoming freshman would not be locked into their tuition, but would see a predictable increase of about 7% each year.

“They’ll know what they’ll be paying 4 years from now” said Stanley of the increases, comparing them to the current pattern of larger and unexpected increases some years and no change in others.

Drago, a second-year political sciences and history major at Stony Brook University, said that NYSUNY 2020 would actually amount to a tuition decrease for him. This year, Drago needed to take winter session classes that cost $800 each in order to graduate on time.

Under the new plan, more classes would available during spring and fall semesters and Drago would be able to take a number of additional classes for $400 less than the price of sacrificing his vacation to take just one.

Current humanities majors who are being forced to take summer classes or go past the traditional four years to complete graduation requirements would clearly benefit from the plan, but Stony Brook’s ability to recruit high schoolers looking to enter the humanities may not.

While class size would be at its smallest in recent years, Stony Brook could still face increased competition from smaller and cheaper SUNY schools that don’t have a rational tuition policy or a large research center to support.

Stanley appealed to Long Islanders outside of Stony Brook by pointing to the 7,000 jobs that NYSUNY 2020 could create. 4,200 of these jobs would be in construction, including the three-year project of building of a 198 million cancer treatment center.

Stony Brook Senate President Fredrick Walter described the university as a great investment for Long Island, citing a study that showed $1 put into Stony Brook meant that $24 would be put back into the Long Island economy.

Only 245 new faculty would be hired, but that’s still enough to allow 1,500 more students to enroll over the next five years. 300 less students were accepted into this year’s incoming class than last year’s.

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