SUNY centers could get $35M in new funds

Stony Brook University campus around since 1957. Stony Brook University campus around since 1957. Photo Credit: Jasmin Frankel

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ALBANY -- The four SUNY university centers, including Stony Brook University, could each get $35 million in new state funding under a plan released Monday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The centers would have to submit applications for the "NY-SUNY 2020" money by the end of the year, and their proposals would have to detail how the funding would benefit local economic development efforts and further their academic missions.

Cuomo said he expects that the proposals will include "rational" tuition increases at the centers at Stony Brook, Buffalo, Albany and Binghamton -- although any such hike would require legislative approval. Current SUNY tuition is $4,970 per year, which is lower than other public colleges in the Northeast.

Cuomo and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher unveiled the initiative about a month after western New York legislators failed to include a similar plan for University at Buffalo in the state budget. Observers called it an acknowledgment of the political and geographic hurdles of giving a single campus tuition leeway.

Zimpher said the new plan is intended to make SUNY an "economic driver for the state."

The plan incorporates many of the ideas the Senate has been discussing with the Cuomo administration, said Senate Higher Education Committee chairman Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson).

Under the plan, each campus would be eligible for $20 million from the Empire State Development Corp. and $15 million from the SUNY construction fund.

Separately, lawmakers are weighing a bill that would authorize 5.5 percent annual SUNY tuition hikes over the next five years, rather than leaving tuition up to yearly budget wrangling.

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