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Cuomo signs bill on SUNY tuition; New law to provide much-needed revenue for state schools

Students at state colleges and universities will see their tuition go up over the next five years, after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed historic legislation Tuesday.

The new law allows State University of New York campuses to raise tuition $300 a year for five years.

The governor's signature was a formality, after state lawmakers hashed out the first-ever rational tuition policy in June.

Campuses have long lobbied for this policy to bring some tuition predictability for students and parents, as opposed to the inconsistent way tuition has been handled.

Until now, SUNY tuition has been determined during the state budget process and traditionally has meant a single big hike when deemed politically palatable at the Capitol.

Over five years, SUNY tuition will rise from its present $4,970 annual charge to $6,470 for in-state, undergraduate students.

It will be even more at SUNY's four research centers -- University at Buffalo, Albany, Binghamton and Stony Brook -- which will be able to implement a rational "plus" tuition plan. That includes charging an additional $75 fee and raising tuition for out-of-state students up to 10 percent.

The new revenue is good news for campuses that faced steep budget cuts the past few years.

"We applaud the governor for signing this historic legislation, which will have a transformative impact on the University at Buffalo, on public higher education in New York State and on our region's economy and quality of life," UB President Satish Tripathi said in a prepared statement.

"The signing of the SUNY 2020 bill represents a significant reform to tuition policy in New York State -- and significantly enhances the ability of New York's students to plan for their educations," added Buffalo State President Aaron Podolefsky. "With my colleagues at Buffalo State and across SUNY, I applaud Governor Cuomo and [SUNY] Chancellor [Nancy] Zimpher for designing and championing this transformative new rational tuition policy."

In addition to the tuition hikes, the law authorizes capital funding totaling $140 million for the four SUNY research centers to focus on economic-development initiatives.

UB plans to use its portion of the money to relocate its medical school from the South Campus on Main Street to the downtown medical campus.

"This legislation gives the University at Buffalo the tools to move forward in implementing the next phase of our long-range vision of excellence so that UB can have an even greater impact and more expansive reach in the communities we serve," Tripathi said.

email: jrey@buffnews.com

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