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SUNY to offer in-state tuition to students from Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

Stony Brook University and other SUNY campuses on

Stony Brook University and other SUNY campuses on Long Island and across New York will reduce tuition for a year for students from hurricane-impacted Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Credit: Heather Walsh

The State University of New York will offer in-state tuition to students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as requested earlier in the week by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

SUNY trustees, in a special meeting Friday, unanimously approved a resolution amending the residency requirement for students attending or planning to attend any of the state-operated public institutions for the 2017-18 academic year.

“When called upon, SUNY acts — and acts quickly,” said H. Carl McCall, chairman of the 18-member SUNY board, who noted the “historical relationship” that New York has with the islands.

McCall led the meeting from SUNY’s Global Center in Manhattan, with videoconferencing from Albany and other locations to accommodate trustees on short notice.

Typically, students must establish residency in the state for at least one year before enrolling in classes at one of the SUNY colleges or universities.

The move reduces tuition by about $10,000 for current and new students hailing from those U.S. territories affected by hurricanes Maria and Irma last month. SUNY officials could decide to extend the resolution when it expires.

“It’s going to be a long road to recovery,” said Assemb. Marcos Crespo (D-Bronx), who attended the meeting in Manhattan. “So many families saw everything they have and everything they know just vanish.”

Crespo’s family is from Puerto Rico and his mother still lives there, he said.

Long Island’s SUNY schools are Farmingdale State College, Stony Brook University and SUNY Old Westbury. Officials at Nassau Community College and Suffolk County Community College, while not bound by the resolution, said they likely will honor it.

The City University of New York is expected to adopt a similar proposal.

Officials at the University of Central Florida recently acted to offer in-state tuition to residents of those U.S. territories, and the Connecticut state system is expected to take the same action, SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson said.

Cuomo this week called on the public college systems — SUNY and CUNY — to take the action, saying it would “alleviate a huge burden for these families as they try to repair and rebuild their lives.”

Officials with the governor’s office said 1.1 million Puerto Ricans live in New York.

In-state tuition for a full-time student at a SUNY four-year college is $6,670. For an out-of-state student, it is $16,320.

In-state tuition for a full-time student at a CUNY four-year college is $6,530 per year; for an out-of-state student, it is $17,400 per year.

SUNY has a total current enrollment of about 600,000, and CUNY has an enrollment of about 300,000.

About 215 students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands currently are enrolled in SUNY, McCall said.

SUNY officials took similar action in 2010 to support students affected by the earthquake in Haiti and in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina, officials said.

In addition, SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx, one of the 64 campuses in the public system, sent its 600-passenger training ship with volunteers, water and supplies to Puerto Rico for relief efforts.

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