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State budget includes tuition increase, capital funds for SUNY schools

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POTSDAM - The 2014-15 state budget includes an expected $300 tuition increase for all SUNY schools and sets aside enough funding for the next year of college construction projects.

This is the fourth $300 tuition increase in four years, part of the “rational tuition” agreement reached in 2011. The fifth and final increase mandated by the plan is expected next year.

Starting this fall, tuition will be $3,235 for state residents at SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam.

Rational tuition was implemented so SUNY schools could cope with rising costs through gradual, predictable tuition increases, rather than a single, large price spike.

“Even with this increase, SUNY has had the smallest percentage increase in tuition of any public university system in the northeast and the Mid-Atlantic area,” SUNY Potsdam interim President Dennis C. Hefner said.

The budget also includes money to help cover some of the increased salaries college employees recently negotiated with the state.

At SUNY Potsdam, these raises led to $600,000 in additional costs, about $60,000 of which is covered by the state budget.

The impact of these salary increases at SUNY Canton was not available Monday.

It also is uncertain how much each college will receive for construction projects, although a few details are available.

SUNY Canton will receive some money for much-needed renovation projects, although the total amount is as yet unknown.

SUNY Potsdam will receive $10 million for renovations and $6 million to create a child care center on Main Street.

“We will be able to expand the number of youngsters we are able to accommodate. We have a huge waiting list now,” Mr. Hefner said.

SUNY Potsdam does not yet know whether it will receive the $6 million it requested to build two large ensemble practice rooms for the Crane School of Music.

SUNY Canton remains hopeful it will be chosen as the site for a proposed College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity.

The budget allocates $15 million for the first stages of planning and developing such a college, without designating a location.

“We are excited to present what we believe will be an excellent proposal to have the proposed college located right here in the north country,” SUNY Canton spokeswoman Lenore VanderZee said via email.

SUNY Canton also hopes its students will benefit from an $8 million scholarship fund created to encourage science, technology, engineering and mathematics training.

“We do not yet have any specifics on this program, but we are hopeful that this scholarship program will benefit SUNY Canton students — many of whom are first-generation college students and most of whom need significant financial aid to attend college,” Ms. VanderZee said.

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