The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

37° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Behind the Academic Excellence and Success Fee

    More than 2,000 students have signed an online petition in the past few days asking Stony Brook University to not apply the new Academic Excellence and Success Fee, which will bill $37.50 to their SOLAR accounts this following spring semester.

    Some say the fee is “an audacity,” “insulting” and “outrageous.” But what some students may not be aware of is that the fee has been in the works for some time.

    The $37.50 fee is part of the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant plan, which was approved by New York State legislators in the summer and signed into law last week. It is not related to James and Marilyn Simons’ $150 million donation to the University.

    Two days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the NYSUNY 2020 plan official by signing a check for $35 million, Stony Brook announced it was changing the fall semester bill for full-time undergraduate students to reflect half of the new $75 annual fee – $37.50. But after a consultation with the Chancellor’s office, the University announced it would no longer retroactively charge students for the fall.

    Lauren Sheprow, Stony Brook University spokeswoman, said full-time undergraduate students will only be billed for the amount of $37.50 starting in the spring semester. She defended the fee saying that it will bring a lot of benefits to students.

    “When students have an opportunity to appreciate how the fee will be used – as an investment in their academic experience at Stony Brook, which will increase the value of a Stony Brook degree – this fee will be better understood,” Sheprow said in an email.

    The money will primarily be used to fund scholarships and hire new faculty.

    Mark Maloof, president of the Undergraduate Student Government, who opposed a retroactive charge for the fall semester, said the timeline of events was one of the main reasons why students got upset.

    Jose Rivera, the student who started the petition on, was not happy that University officials notified students of the new fee through the Internet during finals week.

    “They cowardly push out notifications during what they believe to be our moments of weakness, working diligently to prepare for our exams,” Rivera said on the website.

    Another complaint on the online petition is that Stony Brook announced the new fee very shortly after the Simons family and its foundation announced a multi-million dollar gift to the university. Although the donation was also announced last week, it is completely unrelated in terms of funding and financial expenditures, according to Sheprow.

    “As is the case with all philanthropic giving, the Simons gift is targeted for specific use – not to be used to pay the operating expenses of the university,” Sheprow said.

    The donation, which will be given over a period of seven years, will be used mostly towards research in medical sciences, including the construction of a life sciences building and the creation of a neurosciences institute.

    Opponents of the new fee have also questioned the Simons’ interest in pressuring legislators to allow the State University of New York to raise its own tuition.

    Stacey Greenebaum, the communications director of the Simons Foundation, said the Simons were not pleased with the system’s financial structure before the passage of NYSUNY 2020, but she doesn’t know how much that affected the couple’s decision to make the donation.

    “For the Simons’ gift to have a meaningful and lasting impact, it was essential that the Governor and the State legislature commit to the NYSUNY 2020 plan,” Greenebaum said. “SUNY schools had no power to set their own tuition, and increases by the State were few, inconsistent, and far between.”

    Another charge included in the NYSUNY 2020 project is a higher tuition for non-resident students. Besides the new fee, full-time undergraduates who pay out-of-state tuition were told last week that they would be billed another $670 for the fall semester. That charge was also reversed. Those students will have their tuitions adjusted starting next semester.

    The University at Buffalo, another SUNY flagship campus that had also adjusted students’ fall bill to reflect the fee and tuition changes, announced last week that it will also drop the retroactive charge and only apply the changes for the spring semester. University at Buffalo officials did not say what influenced their decision.

    Maloof said he is against charging students for a semester that will be over in just a few days because students wouldn’t be able to take advantage of it.

    “If I have already been provided with a service, I don’t get to be charged for it differently because the service is now appraised at a different value,” said Maloof in a message to the student body.

    View Comments (1)
    Donate to The Statesman

    Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The Statesman

    Comments (1)

    All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *