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Zimpher stumps for SUNY tuition hike

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The tuition bill could start stacking up for SUNY students, if Chancellor Zimpher gets her way.

SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher told a legislative hearing yesterday that she wants to raise tuition at state colleges, reports Jimmy Vielkind of the Times Union:

Zimpher would not offer details on what increases such a plan might contain, but said she wants to "set the table, in principle" based on a five-year capital plan that "has worked well for SUNY." She rebutted her skeptics by pointing out the system's double-edged sword: further state support is unlikely, so without money from tuition hikes -- or, over a longer timeframe, more public-private partnerships like the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering -- programs will close, it will take longer to graduate, and SUNY will become less attractive for all students.

But Cara Matthews, writing at Politics on the Hudson, notes that Zimpher did say that SUNY wouldn't use a pricing index to set rates - and would try to move its costs closer to those of other state schools:

“We’re going to find the average in public universities across the country and move toward that average,” she said. The tuition plan would have to be fair, predictable and and responsible, Zimpher said. Tuition is currently set at $4,970 a year. “We’ve called it a more responsible tuition policy and by that we mean the money that’s collected for tuition will actually come to the campus to feed the programs the students are taking,” she said.

AP writes that the goal is to help parents plan better for tuition increases, and to even out revenues so there are no longer unexpected jumps in tuition as political winds change:

Zimpher didn't call for a tuition increase, but said the tuition policy is needed so families and SUNY can better plan. "We are looking at the national average of tuition and we don't have any aspirations to eclipse some high rate," she told reporters after her testimony. "We're in the lowest quartile of state universities, and here in the Northeast, we're the lowest."

Why is predictability important?  Because as Tom Precious reports at the Buffalo News, some kids get screwed by timing:

Since 1963, [Zimpher] said, freshmen students have been able to attend a SUNY college without ever seeing a tuition hike over four years, while other students would be slapped with two or three increases during their time at SUNY.

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