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OP-ED: Is QC becoming more like a private institution?

Summer sessions at QC have a wider range of course offerings, compared to the fall semesters. Essentially, only students who can pay the high prices of the summer session can get a better education. I agree that this is extremely unfair and that summer session should be more accessible to students of all income levels at QC however, I don’t agree with the idea that this unfair practice is causing QC to become more of a private institution. 

The Summer session at QC (and by extension Winter Session) have always been known for being expensive and requiring most to pay huge amounts out-of-pocket. This is primarily due to lack of funding and that for most people, FASFA and TAP (i.e financial aid) only covers the fall and spring semester. The summer session is a crucial aspect of the academic experience here at QC and if financial aid doesn’t apply that prevents a huge amount of the population from increasing their  numbers of credits and experiences which helps them to graduate on time. 

Many feel that while QC isn’t classified as a private institution they have already started to behave like one. “The rapid privatization and restructuring of the CUNY public college system continually threatens our legacy as a tool of economic mobility in New York. As the state repeatedly guts our budget, more and more students are left with a decision between inescapable debt and the inability to attend college”, said Gav Meiri, History and Secondary Education major at Queens College.

While behaving like a private institution doesn’t automatically mean that you will become one, it is very clear that budget cuts are hurting our college and the CUNY system. At a time when academic institutions require more funding due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the result is that they are given less. This lack of support forces academic institutions to not only raise the price of tuition itself but to also raise the prices of services provided by the college. For students, many of whom have a hard time paying for tuition as it is, it becomes even harder to pay for services such as summer sessions which helps to keep them on track for graduation. 

David Gerwin, Chair of the QC Chapter of the CUNY PSC (professional staff congress) was the one to bring this concern to the attention of The Knight News. Gerwin stated that when the college isn’t able to open enough seats for courses during the Fall/Spring semester the courses are offered during the summer session. This is dangerous because in order to take summer classes students need more time and money to do so. This causes our college to become enrollment-based meaning that students have to pay out of pocket cash rather than the flat rate tuition payment which is made possible by financial aid. As a result, students who depend on financial aid are not able to take advantage of summer sessions whereas other students, who can afford to pay out of pocket without  assistance from financial aid,  can. 

When asked about possible solutions to this issue, Gerwin said increasing and funding TAP aid is key. Gerwin added that, “the state should give colleges funding to allow them to offer courses during Fall/Spring semester with enough seats and enough sections so that students will be able to take the classes they need and it also prevents existing classes from overcrowding.” 

QC deserves better and the CUNY system deserves better. Students shouldn’t be priced out of a good education.    

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