SUNY Campuses Brace for 25% Cut in State Aid Amid Pandemic

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A SUNY spokesman said that for the upcoming school year the 64-campus University faces revenue losses between $800 million to $1 billion due to declines in enrollment as a result of COVID-19. Photo Credit: CommonApp.org

By: Hadassa Kalatizadeh

New York State’s public universities are bracing for a 25 percent decline in operating aid from the state, in addition to their own revenue losses.  As reported by the NY Post, a SUNY spokesman said that for the upcoming school year the 64-campus University faces revenue losses between $800 million to $1 billion due to declines in enrollment as a result of COVID-19 and increased costs to keep campuses safe.

This month, the campus president in Albany sent a memo to faculty saying the campus is struggling with a $59 million deficit, and that the state is also planning to cut operating assistance for the year.  “We have been informed to expect a 25% cut in state funding this year which is an $11.9 million loss,” said SUNY Albany president Havidan Rodriguez.

Mr. Rodriguez said the school has “instituted 15% budget-reduction targets for all divisions” and will put a freeze on hiring as well as non-essential spending, in order to achieve $39 million in savings. He added that SUNY will dip into cash reserves to cover the remaining deficit.

The schools’ revenue loss can mainly be attributed to the ongoing wide-spread pandemic.  The governor’s emergency mandate dictates that people coming in from many other states need to be quarantined for two weeks upon arrival.  This is also attributing to the decline in out-of-state and international enrollment in Albany U in particular.  It is those out-of-state students that usually generate a big portion of the universities revenue because they need to pay full sticker price at the schools and for the dorms (approximately roughly $32,000 per semester) as they are not eligible for state tuition relief and also do not have the option of commuting.  “This year we are seeing a 13% drop in out-of-state and a 47% decrease in international students. This represents a tremendous loss for our campus diversity, as well as creating a $4.8 million shortfall,” the president said in the memo.  He said the dorms are currently slated to be at just 56 percent capacity.  The decline in students who dorm will also impact dining, parking and other sources of income for the schools.

Similarly, SUNY’s Stony Brook University president Maurie McInnis, said in an open letter sent to the campus community last month, “We have been told to expect a 20-30% cut in state funding this year, or $25 million. We also have been informed that our allocation for last year was retroactively cut – to the tune of $19 million.”

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