State Above Law

By Jamal Jordan

SGA acquires petition signatures to challenge State’s higher education funding.

Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Lemus

Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Lemus

The Student Government Association is calling on the State to keep its promise and abide by the laws governing college funding.
A petition drive is currently underway to reduce the burden student face by covering the 13 percent deficit above their required share. The drive called “Reclaiming the promise,” calls on students to sign a petition to reduce tuition costs by forcing the State to pay its fair share. According to the association, the petition is signed in effort to ask the “New York State legislature to provide more financial assistance to students seeking higher education.” The State contributes only 24 percent of their required 33 percent.
According to the Faculty Association of the College, the formula to operate the campuses is, “1/3 from the students, 1/3 from the county and 1/3 from the state.” This is in reference to New York Education Law 6304: NY Code-Section 6304: Financing of Community Colleges. The law also stated if a Community College is an open access institution, the State is required to fund 40 percent. President of the Faculty Association, Kevin Peterman added that the State has been avoiding their fair share “Every year the State passes the budget but it exempts itself from the law.” The college is currently an open access institution because it doesn’t have a cutoff point or maximum capacity. If an individual meets the requirements, they are accepted. This past January, Governor Cuomo proposed a State Budget but there’s no increase in State aid for the college and Peterman pointed out, that would be a problem. According to him, “If they say they’re going to give us the same amount of money, that’s a cut. Salaries, snow removal, heating and electric cost amongst other needs are going up.”

The operating budget for the 2014-2015 year is roughly $208.4 million, and students’ tuition are currently covering close to 46 percent. However, with the addition of fees which amounts to $612 a year according to the cashier’s office, the burden on students falls anywhere from 50-55 percent. The Board of Trustee decides whether or not to raise tuition and has been reluctant to do so but without proper funding, they had no other choice but to approve. Over the past two years, tuition has increased from $3,990 annually to $4,390 per full time student. During the 2013/2014 academic year, the cost to attend the college was the 10th highest in New York State at $4,140 annually while during the 2014-2015 year, the out of pocket cost for students is $4,390, making it the 6th highest.
During a petition drive held in the Babylon Student Center, an Executive Council Representative of the Faculty Association, Dante Morelli added that students already have a lot to take care of and they need a break. “It put an incredible burden on our students. We expect a lot out of them in the classroom and now we’re expecting a lot from them outside the classroom in how they pay their tuition. Where is that money going to come from? Students may have to pick up another part time job. Many of our students do work multiple jobs or they go to school full time while working full time and it’s completely unfair.”

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