Public vs. private college tuition to be taken up by governor this week

Mar 27, 2017
Originally published on August 30, 2017 9:18 am

One of the issues in this week's state budget negotiations is aid to college students, public and private. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing free tuition for most public higher education students, while private schools are proposing more aid for their students.

Cuomo is proposing his Excelsior scholarships. The plan is that for families making less than $125,000 a year, there would be no tuition. The plan does not cover room and board, making it for commuter students.

The private schools want the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) also raised to help those who want to go to private schools. Interim St. Bonaventure President Andrew Roth says 62 percent of his students receive TAP, which is important when 95 percent of his students pay to live in dorms.

"The apples-to-apples comparison for us would be to a SUNY student who's a residential student and a SUNY residential student because of their room and board charges, it actually ends up costing them somewhere around $18,000 a year tuition, fees, room and board," Roth says. "So we're around $3,000-$4,000 more expensive."

Roth says this is not necessarily competition for the shrinking number of young New Yorkers.

"Private institutions are not the least bit concerned about competing with public institutions because, in some ways, the private institutions have been their own worst enemy," Roth says. "One of the things I think you are going to see result from all of this is the end of the era of high tuition, high aid, where you have a high list price and then through financial aid essentially discount it down."

That is the difference for what everyone calls the sticker price. Roth says the list price for tuition, room and board is around $47,000 at St. Bonaventure, while students actually pay around $22,000.

The Albany lobbying group for private college and universities wants TAP raised to $6,500 and the income ceiling raised to the proposed Excelsior ceiling of $125,000.

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