As a lot of us know, over the summer (in fact, a little more than two weeks before the semester started), Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the NYSUNY 2020 legislation. The primary aspect of said piece of legislation, which has been making headlines all summer, is that it allows annual increases in tuition for state schools over the next five years.
Called “rational” by many supporters of this plan, the goal of this newly passed law is to grant $140 million to SUNY schools for economic and academic programs. It also allows SUNY schools to raise their tuition: up to 3% for non-research universities and up to 8% for research universities, like Binghamtom, Albany and, of course, Stony Brook.
According to an article posted on the “Movers and Shakers” page of the Long Island Business News website, this tuition hike, while further burdening students with an even higher cost of education, seeks to “boost revenue” and “allow state schools to avoid budget cuts” (http://libn.com/moversandshakers/2011).
This most certainly sounds “rational” on paper (especially if you have absolutely no problem paying for college out-of-pocket). Yet, in the face of a weakening economy, targeting higher education is always a wrong move. College is supposed to be a motivating factor to obtain the skills needed for careers to help grease the wheels of our country’s slow economic recovery. As the cost of tuition increases, fewer students will be able to afford to go to college, thus continuing upon our path of stagnation.
In the face of this state’s budget crisis, many schools have to endure the difficulty of program cuts. However, is it truly a “rational” idea of having students foot the bill? Has it gotten to the point that our universities aren’t funded enough and, henceforth, students have to assume the responsibility of doing so? What should be a given “no” is buried under the complex web of bureaucracy that has made this country infamous for its skewed sense of priorities.
It could be a little easier for the common man (in the context of paying for higher education) should Obama’s plan of tax cuts for the middle class come to pass, but under the threat of a combusting economy, as well as a violently vocal GOP, such solutions would have to take the path of many of our student loan payments and be postponed for the (very near) future.