Photo by Vaidik Trivedi
By Vaidik Trivedi
Stony Brook University proposed an increase in the Comprehensive fee for full-time undergraduate students of $100.40 per semester, leading to a total of $1,152.90 for the fiscal year 2019 as compared to $1,027.90, last year.
Along with a hike of $200 in tuition fee and a vision to reach out and engage more than 190,000 alumni across the globe, SBU proposed to add a Lifetime Career & Alumni Fee of $25, to “provide career development for every student while they are enrolled at SBU, and life after college,” Rick Gatteau, the Dean of Students, wrote in an email on March 28th.
“They raise the fees every year,” Himalay Modi, a senior at Stony Brook University, studying Economics, said. “I don’t like when they increase fees and there is no change in the student’s lives.”
President Stanley justified in an email that the increase in budget was necessary to “deliver a world-class education to our students,” while reminding us that the “fundamental issue of the structural deficit,” still surrounds all SUNY campuses.
In his email, Stanley pointed out that since the Great Recession hit, state spending on public colleges and universities remains well below historic levels.
A report by Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released in Oct 2018, stated that “overall state funding for public two- and four-year colleges in the school year ending in 2018 was more than $7 billion below its 2008 level, after adjusting for inflation.”
Transportation fees will see an increase of $32.50 per semester, to buy three new buses for campus. Many buses running on campus are almost a decade old and are running well over their lifespan.
“It has come to the point where the repairs of these buses are going to cost more than their worth,” Abdelrahman Salama, Executive Vice President of the Undergraduate College, said. “Buying new buses is much required for this campus right now.”
Another sizable increase was towards the IT department of the University, which will see an increase of $52.75 per semester. In his email, Gatteau explained that this “will be used to improve and expand: network infrastructure, access to library resources, classroom media systems, technology support services, security of student data, and more.”
“Sure, things are outdated but funding comes from donations and other things, and long term fees and dues,” Mohammad Elbany, a PhD student of Computer Science at SBU, said. “You know something that doesn’t make any sense to me is when they need to upgrade something they increase fees on everyone, but they really should’ve saved money over all the years back.”
Although the university is raising the fees and is actively trying to provide strong reasons for the raised fee, the student body remains skeptical of these hikes. Many students argue that the university raises the fees every semester but very few or no changes are noticeable in the output services.
“If these extra dollars are going towards the things they say it is, then I am fine with it,” Elliot Tuck, a senior studying Computer Science and Physics said. “I just want to see changes in the near future.”
Governor Cuomo released a $175.5 billion budget for New York state for fiscal year 2019-20. Addressing the dropping enrollment dates of students due to ever rising fee, Gov. Cuomo funded the DREAM Act which will open state financial aid programs to undocumented New Yorkers for the first time.
SUNY colleges also saw an increment in their funding from the State of New York. It would be interesting to see if the university’s budget and fee increment will change due to additional funding that will be received from the State.