Students Across the State Demand Another Tuition Freeze

Protest in March 2016 for tuition freezes. / Paul Frangipane

Thousands of postcards were hand delivered to Albany last week in hopes of urging the governor to once again freeze tuition.

With less than three weeks until the end of the fiscal year, students across the state are asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to not increase tuition. The rally and presentation of postcards, bearing the signatures of CUNY and SUNY students, was organized by NYPIRG, CUNY’s University Student Senate and the State University of New York’s Student Assembly. Letters against a tuition increase were also delivered to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Senate Independent Democratic Caucus Leader Jeffery Klein.

“For too long, New York has not provided adequate funding for colleges and universities,” said Alex Bornemisza, chairperson of the NYPIRG Board of Directors. “The State must make public college education fully funded by increasing investment, freezing tuition, and addressing additional costs associated with getting a degree like textbooks, transportation, child care and food.”

Just over a year ago, protests and demonstrations across CUNY took place to demand a tuition freeze, which proved successful; putting an end to what would have been the sixth consecutive year of tuition increases.

The demonstration this past week also came at a time when Cuomo is experimenting with the idea of tuition assistance for families who earn less than $125,000 a year, a proposal known as the Excelsior Scholarship.

Students across campuses are more concerned about CUNY’s budget than just tuition, as many express that CUNY needs more funding from Albany for a variety of reasons.

“Divestment in CUNY and SUNY is directly reflected in the buildings and facilities on campus,” said Raylin Leroux, a Brooklyn College student and Higher Education project leader. “…everything from overcrowded classrooms, bathrooms and classrooms falling into disrepair, and professors being overworked.”

According to Alexa Santory, a Brooklyn College student and Mass Transit Project leader, “Funding for CUNY from the state would help broaden school’s course offerings, making it easier for students to take classes they need, receive financial aid, and graduate within four years.”

Students continue to combat tuition hikes and urge the state for more funding, just before the closing of the fiscal year and organizing demonstrations, clear agendas and plan of actions continue; as time will tell the outcome.

“Now more than ever it is critical that we ensure our institutions of public higher education are affordable and accessible,” said Marc J. Cohen, president of the SUNY Student Assembly. “Higher education creates pathways, enhances communities, and builds vibrant and resilient economies…I call on our elected leaders from across the state to make sure that our institutions receive the investment they need and deserve.”

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