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New Deal For Higher Ed

Quality, Accessible Higher Ed For All

Every New Yorker deserves access to public higher education. New York state must invest in and strengthen our SUNY, CUNY and community colleges.

Our public colleges and universities provide a pathway to opportunity for countless New Yorkers.

They’re also a natural extension of our K-12 public school system. With a New Deal for Higher Education, we are advocating for a system that helps students seamlessly transition from public K-12 classrooms to the lecture halls of New York state’s world-class network of public colleges and universities.

But years of underfunding have led to a steady decline in critical support for students’ academic progress and success. Although the last state budget cycle made meaningful investments in public higher education, the need is still great due to years of underfunding.

Many public colleges and universities are forced to raise tuition or make cuts to academic programs and student services to survive ─cuts that disproportionately affect low-income and Black and brown communities. Every student deserves access to affordable and accessible higher education. That means public colleges and universities that don’t break the bank, and that are located within the local community so that individuals from every stage of life have educational opportunities. New York state must continue to invest in and strengthen our SUNY, CUNY and community colleges.

Additionally, SUNY’s three teaching hospitals at Stony Brook, Downstate and Upstate are crucial to training health care professionals, many of whom choose to remain and work in New York. Enhanced education and training at these institutions are key to promoting economic mobility and reducing disparities. Achieving this requires quality, accessible public higher education, backed by operational support, student services and sufficient capital funding to support aging infrastructure and a new and improved facility at SUNY Downstate.

To achieve this vision for the future of New York state, we recommend the following investments:

Operating Support

New York’s public higher education institutions deliver high-quality education to students from low- and middle-income backgrounds and engage in groundbreaking research. Yet, they have long been constrained by limited budgets. To improve student experiences, retention and graduation rates, significant increases in state operating aid are essential. This funding will allow for more full-time faculty and fairer pay for adjunct faculty.

Student Supports

College students today face increasing challenges in staying enrolled, a situation exacerbated by COVID-19. Public higher education institutions in New York serve a diverse body, including many first-generation students. Over half of these students are students of color from families with incomes below the state average. For most CUNY students, the university provides their only access to mental health counseling and academic support. Additionally, food insecurity is a significant issue among these students.

Public Higher Education Accessible for All

Students choose New York’s public colleges and universities because they are readily accessible and offer exceptional education, which leads to new opportunities. However, shifting the financial burden from the state to students and their families has decreased access to the quality education they deserve. Investment in SUNY and CUNY not only benefits students, but also provides substantial returns for New York’s tax base. Continuously imposing costs on students instead of providing public funding undermines their success, leading to prolonged student loan debt and putting a drag on New York’s economy.

We advocate for investing in CUNY, SUNY and community colleges to enhance access to public higher education without extra costs to students. Although SUNY and CUNY both provide top-quality education, they differ in structure, operation and handling of costs, fees and mandatory expenses. Achieving affordable or free education necessitates funding that caters to the specific needs of each system.

New Deal For Higher Ed Testimonials

Public Higher Ed has put countless students on the path to success. Click below to hear how attending a SUNY, CUNY or community college made a difference for these individuals.