- Associated Press - Friday, May 6, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York students won’t see a tuition hike at state colleges next year, but it’s still a possibility for out-of-state students.

A provision in the recently passed state budget won’t allow the State University of New York board of trustees to vote on raising in-state tuition, effectively freezing it for at least a year.

Trustees are, however, permitted to vote in June on whether to increase out-of-state tuition by up to 10 percent at the SUNY doctorate-granting university centers that are considered the anchors of the system: the University at Albany, Binghamton University, Stony Brook University and the University at Buffalo.

Average undergraduate tuition for New York state residents was $6,150 in 2014-2015, compared with an average of $15,820 for out-of-state residents, according to SUNY.

For the 2016-2017 school year, New York state residents attending Binghamton University will pay $6,470 while nonresidents will pay $21,550. A 10 percent increase would push nonresident tuition to $23,705. The increases would be similar at the other three universities.

Public universities around the country are similarly looking to out-of-state students to pay more to support higher education. In the U.S., tuition for out-of-state students averages about 2.5 times higher than in-state tuition, according to an annual survey by the nonprofit organization the College Board. The survey found that nonresident tuition rates rose by 3.4 percent between last year and this year, compared with 2.9 percent for in-state tuition.

The prospect of an out-of-state tuition hike has raised concerns SUNY will be less competitive. While the system’s first mission is to educate New Yorkers, it does look outside the state to fill seats.

Between 2007 and 2015, increases in tuition at SUNY’s top schools have been matched by decreasing enrollment of out-of-state students.

At its peak in 2013, 4,796 out-of-state students were enrolled at the four centers. In 2015, that number had dropped to 4,196 out of a total 87,265 students, a decade-long low.

There are 13,394 out-of-state students out of a total enrollment of 219,759 at all of SUNY’S 34 state-operated campuses, a list that does not include community colleges.

At the University at Albany, the administration is creating partnerships with foreign schools, including in China, to recruit more international students.

Albany’s goal when recruiting anywhere is to “raise the perceived value,” Provost James Stellar said. “Someone else in administration said, ‘If you compete on value it’s a lot better than if compete on price.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and SUNY had pushed for a possible tuition hike across the board, but the Senate and Assembly were wary as the Board of Trustees had increased tuition each year for the past five years, resulting in a 30 percent overall increase.

A SUNY representative would not answer specific questions, but gave a statement saying SUNY is disappointed that the budget didn’t include the general tuition increase and that the system will work together to make up for “budget shortfalls.”

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