Keeping Pace with Growth

December 2, 2011 | CUNY Matters, The University

Helping students academically and financially, expanding innovative programs and adding expert faculty are top priorities in University’s 2012-2013 budget.

New full-time faculty hiring, expansion of innovative community college programs and student services, and an initiative to help students defray tuition increases are among the priorities detailed in the University’s $2.8 billion budget request for 2012-2013. The request was scheduled for the Board of Trustees’ vote at the end of November.

Proposed as the University experiences its 11th straight year of growth, the request seeks $2.824 billion — nearly $2.1 billion for the senior colleges and nearly $767 million for the community colleges. That is an additional $102.5 million for baseline needs and $91.9 million for programs over the 2011-2012 adjusted level.

Also included in the package of funding sources for the University is a multiyear tuition plan. The plan calls for a $150 per-semester increase through 2016, or $300 per year, with financial-aid coverage for all TAP-eligible recipients and other financial-aid enhancements.

The new tuition schedule, which includes proportional increases for other student categories such as graduate, doctoral and non-state residents, was approved by the state Legislature in June and also reflects the University’s successful CUNY Compact funding model, which envisions incremental, predictable tuition increases — along with committed government funding, internal University efficiencies and a focus on philanthropic contributions — to stabilize CUNY’s finances.

Prominently included in the 2012-2013 budget resolution were monies to help strapped CUNY students with the higher tuitions, and to help defray the cost of textbooks. The $5 million Student Financial Assistance Program “will be utilized by the colleges to assist those students who will be placed at risk of continuing their matriculation due to higher tuition rates,” the Nov. 28 meeting resolution said. It “will help students defray the proposed tuition increases and underscores our commitment that no student in need of financial assistance will be denied access to the University.”

The budget request comes at a time of record enrollment at CUNY, fueled by the University’s academic renaissance, its affordability, and a challenging, uncertain economy. A record-breaking 271,000 students, including an increased number of high-achieving students with high school averages of 85 or better, are expected to enroll this fall, according to early University figures.

Initiatives to meet the steadily pressing demand for a CUNY education by strengthening the University’s academic offerings, services and the CUNY student experience itself, factor significantly in the budget request.

The top priority is a continued commitment to full-time faculty hiring — 400 positions for next year to support CUNY’s “cluster hiring” to enhance programs, many in the sciences, that are poised for national prominence.

“Faculty renewal requires major investment each year because CUNY’s student population continues to grow,” the resolution explained. “CUNY has created hundreds of new faculty positions over the last few years, but still finds itself unable to keep up with the pace of enrollment growth.”

Other funding priorities would bolster student services and programs educating for nursing and other high-demand healthcare professions; support the first year of operation of CUNY’s innovative New Community College, slated to open in August 2012; expand the successful ASAP program to help motivated community college students graduate faster; and continue CUNY’s decade-long upgrade of buildings, including many science facilities — a capital program that is transforming the student experience throughout the University.

Significant new buildings opened this year at John Jay College (see centerfold pages 6-7 ) and the new CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College in East Harlem. New construction or upgrades are to be completed on three more campuses next year.

What is CUNY Value?

More than 58 percent of all CUNY full-time undergraduates — about 100,000 students — received a need-based, tuition-free college education in 2011. These students are fully covered by federal Pell grants and state Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), or are eligible for federal tuition tax credits that supplemented partial aid. A total of 170,000 students — full-time and part-time undergraduates — received $770 million in Pell and TAP, one of the critical ways the University offers both high-quality educational programs and affordability at a time when demand for both is increasing. Combined with scholarships, grants and other aid, financial assistance to CUNY students exceeded $1 billion last year. More at www.cuny.edu/value