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NY Dems Lobby for College Tuition Increase

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New York Senate Democrats are trying again to come up with a way to let State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) campuses charge more for tuition without getting legislative approval. The Democrats' latest proposal would allow the SUNY campuses at Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook to raise tuition by as much as 7 percent, with lower rate increases at the other SUNY and CUNY campuses.

The colleges support the proposed tuition hike as it would make them less dependent on Albany. But many Assembly Democrats oppose the increase.

Manhattan Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, who is on the Assembly's Higher Education Committee, says even a pilot program raising tuition is dangerous because college could become too expensive.

"I think this is a bad idea," said Gottfried. "And if it's a bad idea I don't see the point of trying it just a little."

Democratic senators from the Buffalo and Stony Brook regions believe the increase would help their schools become major economic engines. They've been trying to link the proposed plan to the state budget.

"This is one of the really important unfinished pieces of work that we need to have finished before we can fully conclude this legislative session," said Long Island Senator Brian Foley, whose district includes the SUNY-Stony Brook campus. Foley added he's hopeful that Senate and Assembly leaders can reach a deal with Gov. Paterson by the end of this week.