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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


PHEEIA May Hurt Some Students

Last month the USG released a survey about PHEEIA on their website to gauge student’s opinions and knowledge of the act.  Of the 421 undergraduate students surveyed, the vast majority pays in-state tuition (85 percent) and intends on graduating sometime after 2010 (81 percent). USG Senator Deborah Machalow conducted the study.

“I felt it was incredibly important for the students to have some way of expressing their opinions on something that would have such a huge impact on them if passed,” Machalow said.   “What it basically came down to was that it was my job to represent the students and it was only fair to give them the opportunity to express their opinions.”

The 16 question survey polled students on their thoughts about potential tuition increases.  The most shocking statistic claimed that 20 percent of students said they would have to leave Stony Brook if tuition went up.  In a press conference, President Sam Stanley said tuition would potentially go up between 6 and 7 percent a year.  In-state tuition for 15 credits is $3,105 (this does not include activity fees, housing, meal plans, etc.).  If it were to increase by 7 percent next year, then students would have to pay an extra $217.35.

Shanai Walker is a sophomore health science major who is worried about the potential tuition increase.  “It would mean more sacrificing for my family,” Othman said.  “I have two younger sisters.  What about the students?  What about the families?”  She asked.

The survey examined who students wanted to set their tuition.  Students were the most divided on this question, with 35 percent saying that they wanted Stony Brook University to set tuition, 26 percent wanted the SUNY board of Trustees, 25 percent wanted the New York State Legislature and 15 percent wanted the US government.  Currently the New York State Legislature sets SUNY tuition, and if PHEEIA were to become law, Stony Brook would be able to set its own tuition.

The survey also asked students who would like to have control of their tuition.   61 percent said they would like Stony Brook and other SUNY Institutions to have control over their tuition.  According to President Stanley, all of the money in tuition increases would be controlled by the university.

If PHEEIA passes, Stony Brook’s tuition could be higher than other SUNY schools.  According to the USG survey, 61 percent of students said they would not be willing to pay substantially more to attend Stony Brook.

“If they decide to pass this bill, it makes it more of a private school.  I came to a SUNY because I knew it would be a set rate,” said junior and political science major Zaqhuya Mason.

PHEEIA would also give President Stanley the power to set differential tuition, or charge students different rates depending on their major.  56 percent of the students polled were not in favor of differential tuition, while 25 percent were in favor and 19 percent said “maybe.”

Machalow was intrigued that most students were not in favor of differential tuition.

“The fact that students in less costly majors are willing to pay more so that their fellow students, enrolled in more costly majors, would pay the same basic amount says a lot about the students here.  Students don’t want to be divided by major, and obviously want students to choose their majors based on interest, not cost,” Machalow said.

The survey also addressed the issue of out-of-state tuition.  When asked if they “believe out-of-state tuition is too low here,” 59 percent responded yes, 53 percent responded no, and 18percent responded maybe.  Currently out-of-state tuition is $610 a credit, which would cost a student $9,150 if they were to take 15 credits.

Alin Tomescu, a sophomore from Romania who pays out-of-state tuition because he has a green card, is not optimistic about increasing tuition.

“The tuition keeps increasing, but I haven’t seen any changes,” Tomescu said.  “It seems to me that they keep increasing tuition, but it goes into their pockets and not to my benefit.”

With approximately 15,000 undergraduate students at Stony Brook, the 421 barely represents 3 percent of the student body.

“Unfortunately, I cannot say definitively that the survey results accurately represented the opinions of the undergraduate student body,” Machalow said.

Regardless of the opinion of the undergraduate student body, everyone connected with SUNY will have to wait until at least June 1st, the latest deadline for the annual New York State Budget.

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