If there is anything Queens College students can agree on, especially those in their first year, then it is not raising tuition. Yet, that is what is happening now with another $300 students must pay for next year.
By next year, the hikes will end and officials will possibly be returning to the question of tuition hikes as the state continues to provide no major boost in revenue to CUNY and SUNY. Indeed, based on figures compiled by The Chronicle of Higher Education, Queens College lost nearly 30 percent of state funding in the past 25 years.
This begs the question whether it is a smart investment to increase tuition for CUNY and SUNY students. We say no.
Students recently felt the impact of a fare hike by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and there were talks of increasing it to $3.15 only for Tom Prendergast, the chief financial officer of the MTA, to say it was “unconscionable” and not what the MTA would do.
British economist Michael Roberts warned in a post for his personal site titled “The Next Recession” how current wages for American workers were not enough to pay for expenses and may continue for the next few decades.
“Hourly earnings are crawling along at around 1.5 percent a year and this is before inflation and taxes. Real disposable income is thus stagnating or falling. If people can get extra hours they must work them and if they can get more than one job in the household, they must work them to make ends meet. This is the long-term future,” Roberts said.
A tuition hike, comically deemed rational, is not the way forward. It is understandable if administrators believe it is a necessary evil, yet no alternatives were considered.
NYPIRG is right to say a tuition freeze is needed. It is not fair, as the labor market slowly recovers, to increase tuition rates. It would exclude students that need a bachelor’s degree to find a, hopefully, good-paying job after graduation.
CUNY students realize how difficult it is to juggle a job, or two, as well as pay for tuition. Adding more to the problems of the CUNY and SUNY students in terms of tuition is not the right option to take.
There is one option Governor Andrew Cuomo can take to ensure funding for SUNY and CUNY—tax the rich. As Bill de Blasio proposed when bringing his free pre-kindergarten program to Albany, taxing the rich is needed in an era rivaling the Gilded Age in terms of income inequality.
It’s not right CUNY and SUNY schools are scrambling to get enough funds and turning to students to cover any missing expenses. Moreover, our professors are operating without a contract for five years. It is insanity.
Enough is enough. Freeze tuition rates.