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NYSUNY 2020 makes big changes for UAlbany

By Haley Viccaro
On August 29, 2011

Tuesday, August 9 Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program and rational tuition plan for SUNY schools. The legislation will allow all SUNY campuses to create a rational tuition plan for the schools to raise tuition up to $300 annually for five years.

SUNY annual tuition has seen sudden tuition increases, with spikes of up to 40 percent for the past 20 years. The cost of a SUNY education will now be increased by 30 percent over the next five years, from $4,970 to $6,470 with merit-based aid for students who need it also seeing an increase. The goal for increasing SUNY tuition is to transform public higher education and increase the impact SUNY has in New York State's society.

"New York's universities are the jewel of our state's education system, and with this bill the SUNY system will now be perfectly positioned to become the engine of economic growth across the state," Cuomo said in a statement.

University centers at Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook are authorized to implement a rational "plus" tuition plan by increasing tuition an additional 3 percent, along with a $75 fee. Out-of-state students, who currently pay $13,380 for tuition, can also see a 10 percent tuition increase annually for five years. The schools will also receive $35 million each through the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program.

"Under the new tuition plans, students and parents will be able to reasonably plan for college expenses instead of being subject to the dramatic tuition increases and uncertainty of the past," Cuomo said.

For the four SUNY schools to receive the $35 million each in funding through the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program and to implement a rational "plus" tuition plan, they must submit long-term economic and academic plans. Buffalo and Stony Brook have already submitted their plans, with no set date for Albany and Binghamton to present theirs.

"The $140 million in new capital funding will build these schools into America's leading institutions of research and innovation, while also creating jobs for New Yorkers and improving our state's economic competitiveness," Cuomo said.

The $140 million includes $80 million from the state and $60 million from SUNY. The money from the grant and tuition increases at SUNY's four university centers will strengthen academics and the economy would yield $823 million in capital investment and 16,000 new jobs, according to SUNY officials.

Under the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program, the University at Albany plans to hire 187 new faculty members, increase enrollment by 1,350 students, and build a $150 million Biomedical and Information Innovation Research Plaza on campus.

Funding for the biomedical sciences building will include the $35 million from the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program, $73 million from university financing and another $42 million from existing SUNY capital appropriation. The building will be located proximate to the Life Sciences Research Building and be a total of 300,000 square feet with approximately 400 faculty, staff and researchers. Construction could begin this year with an estimated completion date by 2016.

"The development of critical mass in our technology clusters will not only drive business expansion in the region, it will attract new business and industry around the globe," president of the center for economic growth in Albany, Michael Tucker said.

Faculty would be hired in fields including human health and biomedical sciences, emerging technology, environmental and economic sustainability, public service and policy, business and entrepreneurship, and liberal arts and sciences. The faculty to student ratio will see a difference from 30 to 1 to 24 to 1 overall.

According to UAlbany's Media Relations Director Karl Luntta, the new biomedical sciences building, UAlbany's capital initiative, will have a future impact of approximately $700 million and the overall impact of NYSUNY 2020 will be approximately $1.9 billion.

"NYSUNY 2020 will allow the University at Albany to strengthen its academic enterprise, create new jobs, attract new research funding, and spur economic revitalization in the Capital Region and across the state of New York." UAlbany President George Philip said in a statement.


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