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Letters: Story overstated college costs

Nassau Community College's commencement took place Wednesday evening

Nassau Community College's commencement took place Wednesday evening at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. Credit: Charles Eckert

The article "Comparing college costs" [News, June 13] is an unfortunate example of how an inappropriate measuring stick can lead to grossly misleading conclusions. Based on information from the U.S. Department of Education's College Affordability and Transparency Center, the article said the net cost of attending Nassau Community College had increased by 24.8 percent between 2007-08 and 2009-10. The calculation of net cost includes tuition, room, board, fees, books and supplies, minus what the student receives in aid, grants and scholarships.

In fact, for the period cited, the tuition at NCC increased by 5.4 percent, and any fee increase on top of that was minimal. In 2009-10, the tuition at NCC was $3,622 annually.

Looking at more recent data, the tuition for the upcoming academic year at NCC is projected to be the same as is this year's, and the same as is charged by Suffolk County Community College.

Moreover, the inclusion of housing and food costs as part of the net cost is grossly misleading. Any increase in those costs is not attributable to attending NCC but to living in Nassau County, where the cost of living is high. Also, the inclusion of financial aid in the calculation reflects the relative wealth of the student body and the actions of other levels of government. It is not a reflection of any actions taken by NCC.

NCC remains committed to keeping the cost of obtaining the great education provided by our faculty and supported by our staff and administration affordable to our students and to the taxpayers.

Geoffrey N. Prime

Donald P. Astrab

Garden City

Editor's note: Prime is board chairman and Astrab is president of Nassau Community College.

Newsday's story stated that, "On Long Island the net increases in student expenses at ... Touro College were higher than the national average of 6.1 percent. Touro had one of the country's largest percentage increases, at 127.3 percent."

In fact, Touro College has one of the nation's lowest undergraduate tuitions and is one of the most affordable institutions of higher education. Touro's 2009-10 net price was $5,554, compared to the national average of $18,770 for the 1,252 four-year, private, not-for-profit institutions reported in the survey.

Also, Touro is the 11th lowest out of 131 in New York State, among the four-year, not-for-profit institutions reported in the survey. Thus, the net increase figure reported misrepresents the affordability of Touro among the region's and nation's colleges and universities.

Melvin M. Ness, Manhattan

Editor's note: The writer is the chief financial officer of Touro College.