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SUNY trustees OK community college tuition hikes

Nassau Community College students are paying $248 more this school year, while those at Suffolk County Community College are paying an additional $350. Increases took effect with the fall semester.

Tuition at Suffolk County Community College for the

Tuition at Suffolk County Community College for the 2018-19 school year is $5,220, a $350 increase that was approved Thursday by SUNY trustees. The Brentwood campus is shown on Nov. 1. Photo Credit: Danielle Silverman

State University of New York trustees on Thursday approved a tuition increase for students attending the state’s 30 community colleges for the 2018-19 school year.

The increase, which took effect with the current fall semester, varies by school because tuition is set at the local level by each college’s governing board and county.

The annual tuition at Nassau Community College, which has more than 19,000 students, will rise $248 to a total of $5,350.

Suffolk County Community College, which has about 26,000 students across several campuses and centers, will increase $350 to a total of  $5,220 annually.

On average statewide, the undergraduate tuition rate at the community colleges increased 3.5 percent, or $156, going from $4,522 annually to $4,678, according to the resolution approved by the SUNY board.

Long Island’s two schools are the only community colleges in New York where tuition now exceeds the state Tuition Assistance Program limit of $5,165, according to the resolution. The provision affects about 1,200 students who receive the TAP grant at NCC and 1,500 grant recipients who attend SCCC.

SUNY and college officials said the cost will not necessarily mean an out-of-pocket increase for students, because the remaining tuition may be covered by federal grants and other financial aid.

Following the first semester, if there is “seen to be a detrimental impact on the students,” the institutions will consider offering a tuition credit covering the gap, Josh Sager, SUNY’s associate vice chancellor for finance and business, said Wednesday at the board’s community college committee meeting.

This is the second year tuition has increased for students across the 64-campus SUNY system.

The cost for full-time students attending the state's four-year institutions increased $200, going from $6,670 per year to $6,870 for 2018-19. The change, approved by the SUNY board in June, affects undergraduates at 34 of the 64 campuses statewide, including those attending Farmingdale State, SUNY Old Westbury and Stony Brook University.

Unlike the four-year schools, which rely on overall state aid increases, state funding for community colleges is based on enrollment, and because many community colleges have seen declines in the number of students, their state funding has decreased. That makes them more reliant on local aid, usually from the county, and tuition dollars.

 "Tuition at many of our community colleges is already higher than many peer institutions across the nation, and many of our community colleges are facing challenging enrollment figures," said Michael Braun, 23, an Elmont native and president of the SUNY Student Assembly. "Continuing to increase costs could further disincentive students from enrolling in our community colleges."

Braun was the only board trustee to vote against the measure, which was combined with other resolutions. SUNY board chairman H. Carl McCall abstained. 

The SUNY board, in its budget recommendations to the state over the last few years, has called for increased funding, as well as for change in the state’s funding formula for community colleges. SUNY plans to again call for funding and stability for the community colleges in its 2019-20 state budget request, officials said.  

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